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From  the  collection  of  the 

^       m 

°  P^  -  .-o. 


t         P 

San  Francisco,  California 








JUSTIN  McCarthy 




Vol.  III. 





Copyright,  190.,  by  Ha«pei!  &  Brothers. 

All  rights  reserved. 





CHAPTER                                                   -  PAGE 



XLIV.    THE    "NORTH  BRITON  " 46 






L.    THE    SPIRIT   OF  JUNIUS 128 



LIII.    THE     "vicar    OF    WAKEFIELD" 167 

LIV.    YANKEE     DOODLE 173 

LV.    THE     GORDON    RIOTS 190 

LVI.    TWO  NEW   MEN 211 

LVII.    FOX   AND    PITT 223 



LX.    THE    CHANGE    OF    THINGS 290 

LXI.    "  NINETY -EIGHT " 306 






"supreme  iroxic  processiox." 

For  six  and  forty  years  England  had  been  ruled  by 
German  princes.  One  Elector  of  Hanover  named  George 
had  been  succeeded  bv  another  Elector  of  Hanover  named 
George,  and  George  the  First  and  George  the  Second, 
George  the  father  and  George  the  son,  resembled  each  other 
in  being  by  nature  German  rather  than  English,  and  by 
inclination  Electors  of  Hanover  rather  than  Kings  of  Eng- 
land. Against  each  of  them  a  Stuart  prince  had  raised  a 
standard  and  an  army.  George  the  First  had  his  James 
Francis  Edward,  who  called  himself  James  the  Third,  and 
whom  his  opponents  called  the  Pretender,  by  a  translation 
which  gave  an  injurious  signification  to  the  French  word 
"  pretendant."  George  the  Second  had  his  Charles  Edward, 
the  Young  Pretender  who  a  generation  later  led  an  in- 
vading army  well  into  England  before  he  had  to  turn  and 
fly  for  his  life.  A  very  different  condition  of  things  await- 
ed the  successor  of  George  the  Second.  George  the 
Second's  grandson  was  an  English  prince  and  an  English- 
man. He  was  born  in  England;  his  father  was  born  in 
England;  his  native  tongue  was  the  English  tongue;  and 
if  he  was  Elector  of  Hanover,  that  seemed  an  accident. 

The  title  was  as  unimportant  and  trivial  to  the  King  of 
VOL.  ni. — 1 

2  A  HISTORY  OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlii. 

England  as  his  title  of  King  of  France  was  unreal  and 
theatrical.  The  remnant  of  the  Jacobites  could  not 
with  truth  call  the  heir  to  the  throne  a  foreigner,  and 
they  could  not  in  reason  hope  to  make  such  a  demonstra- 
tion in  arms  against  him  as  they  had  made  against  his 
grandfather  and  his  great-grandfather.  The  young  King 
came  to  a  much  safer  throne  under  much  more  favorable 
auspices  than  either  of  the  two  monarchs,  his  kinsmen  and 
his  namesakeS;,  who  had  gone  before  him. 

The  young  King  heard  the  first  formal  news  of  his 
accession  to  the  throne  from  the  lips  of  no  less  stately  a 
personage  than  the  Great  Commoner  himself — the  foremost 
Englishman  then  alive.  George  the  Third,  as  he  then 
actually  was,  had  received  at  Kew  Palace  some  messages 
which  told  him  that  his  grandfather  was  sinking  fast,  that 
he  was  dying,  that  he  was  dead.  George  resolved  to  start 
for  London.  On  his  way,  and  not  far  from  Kew,  he  was 
met  by  a  coach  and  six,  which,  from  the  blue  and  silver 
liveries,  he  knew  to  be  that  of  Mr.  Pitt.  George  received 
the  congratulations  of  his  great  minister — the  great  Minis- 
ter whom,  as  it  was  soon  to  appear,  he  understood  so  little 
and  esteemed  so  poorly.  Then  Pitt,  turning  his  horses^ 
heads,  followed  his  sovereign  into  London.  Never  perhaps 
in  English  history  was  a  young  king  welcomed  on  his 
accession  by  so  great  a  minister.  Among  the  many  auspi- 
cious conditions  which  surrounded  the  early  days  of 
George  the  Third's  reign  not  the  least  auspicious  was  the 
presence  of  such  a  bulwark  to  the  throne  and  to  the  realm. 
For  the  name  of  Pitt  was  now  feared  and  honored  in  every 
civilized  country  in  the  world.  It  had  become  synonymous 
with  the  triumphs  and  the  greatness  of  England.  Pitt  was 
the  greatest  War  Minister  England  had  yet  known.  He 
was  the  first  English  statesman  who  illustrated  in  his  own 
person  the  difference  between  a  War  Minister  and  a  Minis- 
ter of  War. 

Truly  this  journey  of  the  King  and  the  Prime  Minister 
from  Kew  to  London  was  what  George  Meredith  calls  a 
"  supreme  ironic  procession,  with  laughter  of  gods  in  the 
background."    The  ignorant,  unwise  young  King  led  the 


way,  the  greatest  living  statesman  in  England  followed 
after.  One  can  hardly  imagine  a  procession  more  su- 
premely ironic.  Almost  all  the  whole  range  of  human 
intellect  was  stretched  out  and  exhausted  b}^  the  living 
contrast  between  the  King  who  went  first  and  the  Minister 
vrho  meekly  went  second.  Pitt  had  made  for  young 
George  the  Third  a  great  empire,  which  it  was  the  work  of 
George  the  Third  not  long  after  to  destroy,  so  far  as  its  de- 
struction could  be  compassed  by  the  stupidity  of  a  man. 
Pitt  had  made  the  name  of  England  a  power  all  over  the 
civilized  world.  Rome  at  her  greatest,  Spain  at  her  great- 
est, could  hardly  have  surpassed  the  strength  and  the 
fame  of  England  as  Pitt  had  re-made  it.  George,  from 
the  very  first,  felt  a  sort  of  coldness  towards  his  superb 
Minister.  He  had  all  the  vague  pervading  jealousy  which 
dulness  naturally  shows  to  genius.  It  was  a  displeasure 
to  him  from  the  first  that  Pitt  should  have  made  Eng- 
land so  great,  because  the  work  was  the  inspiration  of  the 
subject  and  not  of  the  sovereign.  ]^o  one  can  know  for 
certain  what  thoughts  were  filling  the  mind  of  George  as 
he  rode  to  London  that  day  in  front  of  William  Pitt.  But 
it  may  fairly  be  assumed  that  he  was  not  particularly 
sorry  for  the  death  of  his  grandfather,  and  that  he  was 
pleasing  his  spirit  with  the  idea  that  he  would  soon  emanci- 
pate himself  from  Mr.  Pitt.  "  Be  a  king,  George,'^  his 
mother  used  to  say  to  him.  The  unsifted  youth  was  deter- 
mined, if  he  could,  to  be  a  king. 

At  the  time  of  his  accession  George  was  in  his  twenty- 
third  year.  He  was  a  decidedly  personable  young  Prince. 
He  had  the  large  regular  features  of  his  race,  the  warm 
complexion  of  good  health,  and  a  vigorous  constitution, 
keen  attractive  eyes,  and  a  firm,  full  mouth.  He  was  tall 
and  strongly  made,  and  carried  himself  with  a  carriage 
that  was  dignified  or  stiff  according  to  the  interpretation 
of  those  who  observed  it.  Many  of  the  courtly  ladies 
thought  him  extremely  handsome,  were  eagerly  gracious 
to  him,  did  their  best  to  thrust  themselves  upon  his  atten- 
tion, and  received,  it  would  seem,  very  little  notice  in  re- 
turn for  their  pains.     If  George  showed  himself  indif- 

4  A   mi^TORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xui 

ferent  and  even  ungallant  to  his  enthusiastic  admirers, 
his  brother  Edward  Avas  of  a  different  disposition.  But 
though  Edward,  like  his  brother,  was  an  agreeable-looking 
youth,  and  keen  to  win  favor  in  women's  eyes,  he  found 
himself  like  Benedict:  nobodv  marked  him  because  he  was 
not  the  heir  to  the  throne. 

In  some  illustrated  histories  of  the  reign  two  portraits 
of  George  the  Third  are  placed  in  immediate  and  pathetic 
contrast.  The  one  portrait  represents  George  as  he  showed 
in  the  first  year  of  his  reign — alert,  young,  smiling,  with 
short-cut  powdered  hair,  a  rich  flowered  coat,  and  the  star 
and  ribbon  of  the  Garter  on  his  breast.  So  might  a  young 
king  look  called  in  the  flower  of  his  age  to  the  control  of 
a  great  country,  pleased,  confident,  and  courageous.  The 
other  picture  shows  how  the  King  looked  in  the  sixtieth 
year  of  his  reign.  The  face  is  old  and  wrinkled  and  weary ; 
the  straggling  white  locks  escape  from  beneath  a  fur- 
trimmed  cap;  the  bowed  body  is  wrapped  in  a  fur- 
trimmed  robe.  The  time  of  two  generations  of  men  lay 
between  the  young  king  and  the  old;  the  longest  reign 
then  known  to  English  history,  the  longest  and  the  most 

George  the  Third  started  with  many  advantages  over 
his  predecessors  of  the  same  name.  He  was  an  English- 
man. He  spoke  the  English  language.  It  w^as  his  sincere 
wdsh  to  be  above  all  things  English.  He  honestly  loved 
English  ways.  He  had  not  the  faintest  desire  to  start  a 
seraglio  in  England.  He  had  no  German  mistresses.  He 
did  not  care  about  fat  women.  He  was  devoted  to  his 
mother — perhaps  a  good  deal  too  devoted,  but  even  the 
excess  of  devotion  might  have  been  pardonable  in  the  pub- 
lic opinion  of  England;  certainly  it  was  only  his  own 
weakness  and  perversity  that  made  it  for  a  while  not 
pardonable.  He  was  of  the  country  squire's  order  of  mind ; 
his  tastes  were  wholly  those  of  the  stolid,  well-intentioned, 
bucolic  country  squire.  He  would  probably  have  been  a 
very  respectable  and  successful  sovereign  if  only  he  had 
not  been  plagued  by  the  ambition  to  be  a  king. 

It  is  curious  to  remember  that  the  accession  of  George 


the  Third  was  generally  and  joyfully  welcomed.  A  hope- 
ful people,  having  endured  with  increasing  dislike  two 
sovereigns  of  the  House  of  Hanover,  were  quite  prepared 
to  believe  that  a  third  prince  was  rich  in  all  regal  qualities. 
in  all  public  and  private  virtues.  It  would,  perhaps,  have 
been  unreasonable  on  the  part  of  any  dispassionate  ob- 
server of  public  affairs  to  anticipate  that  a  third  George 
would  make  a  worse  monarch  than  his  namesakes  and 
immediate  predecessors.  The  dispassionate  observer  might 
have  maintained  that  there  were  limits  to  kingly  mis- 
government  in  a  kingdom  endowed  with  a  Constitution 
and  blessed  with  a  measure  of  Parliamentary  representa- 
tion, and  that  those  limits  had  been  fairly  reached  by  the 
two  German  princes  who  ruled  reluctantly  enough  over 
the  fortunes  of  England.  This  same  dispassionate  ob- 
server might  reasonably,  assuming  him  to  possess  familiar 
knowledge  of  certain  facts,  have  hazarded  the  prediction 
that  George  the  Third  would  be  a  better  king  than  his 
grandfather  and  his  great-grandfather.  He  was  certainly 
a  better  man.  There  was  so  much  of  a  basis  whereupon  to 
build  a  hope  of  better  things.  The  profligacy  of  his  an- 
cestors had  not  apparently  vitiated  his  blood  and  judg- 
ment. His  young  life  had  been  a  pure  life.  He  was  in 
that  way  a  pattern  to  princes.  He  had  been,  which  was 
rare  with  his  race,  a  good  son.  He  was  to  be — and  there 
was  no  more  rare  quality  in  one  of  his  stock — a  good 
husband,  a  good  father.  He  was  in  his  way  a  good  friend 
to  his  friends.  He  was  sincerely  desirous  to  prove  himself 
a  good  king  to  his  people. 

The  youth  of  George  the  Third  had  passed  under  some- 
what agitated  conditions.  George  the  Second's  straight- 
forward hatred  for  his  son's  wife  opened  a  great  gulf 
between  the  Court  and  Leicester  House,  which  no  true 
courtier  made  any  effort  to  bridge.  While  the  young 
Prince  knew,  in  consequence,  little  or  nothing  of  the  atmos- 
phere of  St.  James's  or  the  temper  of  those  who  breathed 
that  atmosphere,  attempts  were  not  wanting  to  sunder  him 
from  the  influence  of  his  mother.  Some  of  the  noblemen 
and  clergymen  to  whom  the  early  instruction  of  the  young 

6  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  xlii. 

Prince  was  entrusted  labored  with  a  persistency  which 
would  have  been  admirable  in  some  other  cause  to  sever 
him  not  merely  from  all  his  father's  friends  but  even 
from  his  father's  wife.  There  was  indeed  a  time  when 
their  efforts  almost  succeeded  in  alienating  the  young 
Prince  from  his  mother.  The  wildest  charges  of  Jacobi- 
tism  were  brought  against  the  immediate  servants  of  the 
Princess,  charges  which  those  who  made  them  wholly 
failed  to  substantiate.  The  endeavor  to  remove  the  Prince 
from  the  tutelage  of  his  mother  was  abandoned.  The 
education  of  the  Prince  was  committed  to  more  sympa- 
thetic care.  The  change  had  its  advantage  in  keeping 
George  in  the  wholesome  atmosphere  of  Leicester  House 
instead  of  exposing  him  to  the  temptations  of  a  profligate 
Court.  It  had  its  disadvantages  in  leaving  him  entirely 
under  the  influence  of  a  man  to  whose  guidance,  counsel, 
and  authority  the  Princess  Dowager  absolutely  submitted 

Observers  of  the  lighter  sort  are  pleased  to  insist  upon 
the  trifles  which  have  the  most  momentous  influence  upon 
the  fortunes  of  peoples  and  the  fates  of  empires.  A 
famous  and  facile  French  playwright  derived  the  down- 
fall of  a  favorite  and  of  a  political  revolution  from  the 
spilling  of  a  glass  of  water.  There  are  times  when  the 
temptation  to  pursue  this  thread  of  fancy  is  very  great. 
Suppose,  for  instance,  it  had  not  chanced  to  rain  on  a 
certain  day  at  Clifden,  when  a  cricket  match  was  being 
played  in  which  Frederick,  Prince  of  Wales,  happened  to 
be  interested.  A  fretted  Prince  Avould  not  have  had  to 
retire  to  his  tent  like  Achilles,  would  not  have  insisted 
on  a  game  of  whist  to  cheer  his  humor.  There  would 
have  been  no  difficulty  in  forming  a  rubber.  There  would 
have  been  no  need  to  seek  for  a  fourth  hand.  No  wistful 
gentleman-in-attendance  seeking  the  desirable  would  have 
had  to  ask  the  aid  of  a  strange  nobleman  perched  in  an 
apothecary's  chariot.  Had  this  strange  nobleman  not  been 
so  sought  and  found,  had  the  apothecary  not  been  wealthy 
enough  to  keep  a  chariot,  and  friendly  enough  to  offer  a 
poor  Scotch  gentleman  a  seat  in  it,  it  is  possible  that  the 

1760.  LORD  BUTE.  7 

American  Colonies  might  yet  form  portion  and  parcel  of 
the  British  Empire,  that  Chatham's  splendid  dreams  might 
have  become  still  more  splendid  realities,  that  the  name 
of  Wilkes  might  never  have  emerged  from  an  obscurity 
of  debauch  to  association  with  the  name  of  liberty.  For 
the  nobleman  who  made  the  fourth  hand  in  the  Prince  of 
Wales's  rubber  was  unfortunately  a  man  of  agreeable 
address  and  engaging  manners,  manners  that  pleased  in- 
finitely the  Prince  of  Wales,  and  cemented  a  friendship 
most  disastrous  in  its  consequences  to  England,  to  the  Eng- 
lish j)eople,  and  to  an  English  king.  The  name  of  the  en- 
gaging nobleman  was  Lord  Bute. 

At  the  time  of  this  memorable  game  of  whist  Lord  Bute 
was  thirty-six  years  old.  He  was  well  educated,  well  read, 
tall  of  body,  pleasing  of  countenance,  quick  in  intelligence, 
and  curious  in  disposition.  These  qualities  won  the  heart 
of  the  Prince  of  Wales,  and  lifted  the  young  Scotch  noble- 
man from  poverty  and  obscurity  to  prominence  and  favor. 
The  Prince  appointed  Bute  a  Lord  of  the  Bedchamber 
and  welcomed  him  to  his  most  intimate  friendship.  The 
death  of  the  Prince  of  Wales  two  years  later  had  no  disas- 
trous effect  upon  the  rising  fortunes  of  the  favorite.  The 
influence  which  Bute  had  exercised  over  the  mind  of 
Frederick  he  exercised  over  the  mind  of  Frederick's  wife 
and  over  the  mind  of  Frederick's  heir.  Scandal  whisper- 
ed, asserted,  insisted  then  and  has  insisted  ever  since,  that 
the  influence  which  Lord  Bute  exercised  over  the  Princess 
of  Wales  was  not  merely  a  mental  influence.  How  far 
scandal  was  right  or  wrong  there  is  no  means,  there  prob- 
ably never  will  be  any  means,  of  knowing.  Lord  Bute's 
defenders  point  to  his  conspicuous  affection  for  his  wife, 
Edward  Wortley  Montagu's  only  daughter,  in  contraven- 
tion of  the  scandal.  Undoubtedly  Bute  was  a  good  hus- 
band and  a  good  father.  Whether  the  scandal  was  justi- 
fied or  not,  the  fact  that  it  existed,  that  it  was  widely  blown 
abroad  and  very  generally  believed,  was  enough.  As  far 
as  the  popularity  of  the  Princess  was  concerned  it  might  as 
well  have  been  justified.  For  years  no  caricature  was  so 
popular  as  that  which  displayed  the  Boot  and  the  Petti- 

8  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  xlii. 

coat,  the  ironic  popular  symbols  of  Lord  Bute  and  the 

By  whatever  means  Lord  Bute  gained  his  influence  over 
the  Princess  of  Wales,  he  undoubtedly  possessed  the  influ- 
ence and  used  it  with  disastrous  effect.  He  moulded  the 
feeble  intelligence  of  the  young  Prince  George;  he  guided 
his  thoughts,  directed  his  studies  in  statecraft,  and  was  to 
all  intents  and  purposes  the  governor  of  the  young  Prince's 
person.  The  young  Prince  could  hardly  have  had  a  worse 
adviser.  Bute  was  a  man  of  many  merits,  but  his  defects 
were  in  the  highest  degree  dangerous  in  a  person  who  had 
somehow  become  possessed  of  almost  absolute  power.  In 
the  obscurity  of  a  private  life,  the  man  who  had  borne 
poverty  with  dignity  at  an  age  when  poverty  was  pecul- 
iarly galling  to  one  of  his  station  might  have  earned  the 
esteem  of  his  immediate  fellows.  In  the  exaltation  of  a 
great  if  an  unauthorized  rule,  and  later  in  the  authority 
of  an  important  public  office,  his  defects  were  fatal  to  his 
fame  and  to  the  fortunes  of  those  who  accepted  his  sway. 
For  nearly  ten  years,  from  the  death  of  Frederick,  Prince 
of  Wales,  to  the  death  of  George  the  Second,  Bute  was  all- 
powerful  in  his  influence  over  the  mother  of  the  future 
King  and  over  the  future  King  himself.  When  the  young 
Prince  came  to  the  throne  Lord  Bute  did  not  immediately 
assume  ostensible  authority.  He  remained  the  confidential 
adviser  of  the  young  King  until  1761.  In  1761  he  took 
office,  assuming  the  Secretaryship  of  State  resigned  by 
Lord  Holdernesse.  From  a  secretaryship  to  the  place  of 
Prime  Minister  was  but  a  step,  and  a  step  soon  taken. 
Although  he  did  not  occupy  office  very  long,  he  held  it 
long  enough  to  become  perhaps  the  most  unpopular  Prime 
Minister  England  has  ever  had. 

The  youth  of  George  the  Third  was  starred  with  a 
strange  romance.  The  full  truth  of  the  story  of  Hannah 
Lightfoot  will  probably  never  be  known.  What  is  known 
is  sufficiently  romantic  without  the  additions  of  legend. 
Hannah  Lightfoot  was  a  beautiful  Quaker  girl,  the  daugh- 
ter of  a  decent  tradesman  in  Wapping.  Association  with 
the  family  of  an  uncle,  a  linendraper,  who  lived  near  the 


Court,  brought  the  girl  into  the  fashionable  part  of  the 
town.  The  young  Prince  saw  her  by  accident  somehow, 
somewhere,  in  the  early  part  of  1754,  and  fell  in  love  with 
her.  From  that  moment  the  girl  disappears  from  certain 
knowledge,  and  legend  busies  itself  with  her  name.  It  is 
asserted  that  she  was  actually  married  to  the  young  Prince ; 
that  William  Pitt,  afterwards  Earl  of  Chatham,  was 
present  at  the  marriage;  that  she  bore  the  Prince  several 
children.  Other  versions  have  it  that  she  was  married  as  a 
mere  form  to  a  man  named  Axford,  who  immediately 
left  her,  and  that  after  this  marriage  she  lived  with  the 
Prince.  She  is  supposed  to  have  died  in  a  secluded  villa  in 
Hackney.  It  is  said  that  not  only  the  wife  of  George  the 
Third  but  the  wife  of  George  the  Fourth  believed  that 
the  marriage  had  taken  place.  We  must  not  attach  too 
much  importance  to  a  story  which  in  itself  is  so  very  un- 
likely. It  is  in  the  last  degree  improbable  that  a  states- 
man like  Pitt  would  have  lent  himself  to  so  singular  a 
proceeding.  Even  if  an  enamoured  young  Prince  were 
prepared  to  sanction  his  affections  by  a  marriage,  he  would 
scarcely  have  found  an  assistant  in  the  ablest  politician 
of  the  age.  The  story  of  the  Axford  marriage  is  far  more 
probable.  If  Hannah  Lightfoot  had  been  married  to 
George  she  would  have  been  Queen  of  England,  for  there 
was  no  Royal  Marriage  Act  in  those  days. 

Another  and  more  famous  romance  is  associated  with 
the  youth  of  George  the  Third.  Lady  Sarah  Lennox,  the 
youngest  daughter  of  the  second  Duke  of  Richmond,  was 
one  of  the  most  beautiful  women  of  her  time.  The  writers 
of  the  day  rave  about  her,  describe  her  as  *^  an  angel,"  as 
lovelier  than  any  Magdalen  by  Correggio.  When  she  was 
only  seventeen  years  old  her  beauty  attracted  the  young 
King,  who  soon  made  no  secret  of  his  devotion  to  her. 
The  new  passion  divided  the  Court  into  two  camps.  The 
House  of  Lennox  was  eager  to  bring  about  a  marriage, 
which  was  not  then  obstructed  by  the  law.  Henry  Fox, 
one  of  the  most  ambitious  men  of  that  time  or  of  any 
time,  was  Lady  Sarah's  brother-in-law,  and  he  did  his 
best  to  promote  the  marriage.     On  the  other  hand,  the 

10  A  HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlii. 

party  which  followed  the  lead  of  the  Princess  Dowager 
and  Lord  Bute  fought  uncomproinisingl}^  against  the 
scheme.  The  Princess  Dowager  had  everything  to  lose, 
Lord  Bute  had  everything  to  lose,  by  such  an  alliance. 
The  power  of  the  Princess  Dowager  over  the  young  King 
would  vanish,  and  the  influence  of  Lord  Bute  over  the 
Princess  Dowager  would  cease  to  have  any  political  im- 
portance. Lord  Bute  did  all  he  could  to  keep  the  lovers 
apart.  Henry  Fox  did  all  he  could  to  bring  the  lovers 
together.  For  lovers  they  undoubtedly  were.  George 
again  and  again  made  it  plain  to  those  who  were  in  his 
confidence  that  he  was  in  love  with  Lady  Sarah,  and  was 
anxious  to  make  her  his  queen;  and  Lady  Sarah,  though 
her  heart  is  said  to  have  been  given  to  Lord  Newbottle, 
was  quite  ready  to  yield  to  the  wishes  of  her  family  when 
those  wishes  were  for  the  crown  of  Enojland.  On  the 
meadows  of  Holland  House  the  beautiful  girl,  loveliest  of 
Arcadian  rustics,  would  play  at  making  hay  till  her  royal 
lover  came  riding  by  to  greet  her. 

But  the  idyll  did  not  end  in  the  marriage  for  which  Fox 
and  the  Lennoxes  hoped.  It  is  said  that  the  King  was 
jealous  of  Lord  Newbottle;  it  is  said  that  a  sense  of  duty 
to  his  place  and  to  his  people  made  him  resolve  to  subdue 
and  sacrifice  his  own  personal  feelings.  He  offered  his 
hand  and  his  crown  to  the  Princess  of  Mecklenburg- 
Strelitz.  Lady  Sarah  lost  both  her  lovers,  the  King  and 
Lord  Newbottle,  who,  in  the  words  of  Grenville,  "  com- 
plained as  much  of  her  as  she  did  of  the  King.'^  But  she 
did  not  remain  long  unmarried.  In  1762  she  accepted  as 
husband  the  famous  sporting  Baronet  Sir  Thomas  Charles 
Bunbury,  and  nineteen  years  later  she  married  the  Hon. 
George  Napier,  and  became  the  mother  of  an  illustrious 
pair  of  soldier  brothers.  Sir  Charles  Napier,  the  hero  of 
Scinde,  and  Sir  William  Napier,  perhaps  the  best  military 
historian  since  Julius  Caesar.  Lady  Sarah  died  in  1826, 
in  her  eighty-second  year.  In  her  later  years  she  had  be- 
come totally  blind,  and  she  bore  her  affliction  with  a  sweet 
patience.  At  her  death  she  is  described  by  the  chroniclers 
of  the  time  as  "  probably  the  last  surviving  great-grand- 


daughter  of  King  Charles  the  Second."    A  barren  honor, 

The  young  Princess  whom  George  married  was  in  many 
ways  well  and  even  excellently  qualified  to  make  a  good 
queen.  It  is  said  that  she  was  discovered  for  her  young 
husband  after  a  fashion  something  resembling  a  tale  from 
the  "Arabian  Xights."  The  Princess  Dowager,  eager  to 
counteract  the  fatal  effect  of  the  beauty  of  Lady  Sarah 
Lennox,  was  anxious  to  have  the  young  King  married  as 
soon  as  possible.  Her  own  wishes  were  in  favor  of  a 
daughter  of  the  House  of  Saxe-Gotha,  but  it  is  said  that 
fear  of  a  disease  hereditary  in  the  family  overruled  her 
wishes.  Then,  according  to  the  story,  a  Colonel  Graeme, 
a  Scotch  gentleman  upon  whose  taste  Lord  Bute  placed 
great  reliance,  was  sent  on  a  kind  of  roving  embassy  to  the 
various  little  German  Courts  in  search  of  the  ideal  bride. 
The  lad}^  of  the  quest  was,  according  to  the  instructions 
given  to  Colonel  Graeme,  to  be  at  once  beautiful,  healthy, 
accomplished,  of  mild  disposition,  and  versed  in  music, 
an  art  to  which  the  King  was  much  devoted.  Colonel 
Graeme,  with  this  pleasing  picture  of  feminine  graces 
ever  in  his  mind,  found  the  original  of  the  portrait  in 
Charlotte  Sophia,  the  second  daughter  of  Charles  Lewis 
Frederick,  Duke  of  Mecklenburg-Strelitz. 

There  is  another  version  of  the  manner  of  George's  woo- 
ing which  nullifies  the  story  of  Colonel  Graeme's  romantic 
mission.  According  to  this  other  version  George  fell  in 
love  with  his  future  queen  simply  from  reading  a  letter 
written  by  her.  The  tale  sounds  as  romantic  as  that  of  the 
Provencal  poet's  passion  for  the  portrait  of  the  Lady  of 
Tripoli.  It  is  true,  however,  that  the  letter  of  Charlotte 
Sophia  was  something  of  the  nature  of  a  state  paper.  The 
Duchy  of  Mecklenburg-Strelitz,  of  which  the  Princess 
Charlotte's  brother  was  the  sovereign,  had  been  overrun 
by  the  troops  of  the  King  of  Prussia.  The  young  Princess 
wrote  a  letter  to  the  Prussian  King,  which  came  to  George's 
notice  and  inspired  him,  it  is  said,  with  the  liveliest  admira- 
tion for  the  lady  who  penned  it.  Whatever  the  actual 
reason,   whether   the   report   of   Colonel   Graeme   or   the 

12  A  HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlii. 

charms  of  her  epistolary  style,  the  certain  thing  is  that 
George  was  married,  first  by  proxy  and  afterwards  in  due 
form,  to  the  young  Princess  in  1761.  The  young  Princess 
was  not  remarkably  beautiful.  Even  the  courtiers  of  the 
day,  anxious  to  say  their  strongest  in  her  praise,  could  not 
do  much  more  than  commend  her  eyes  and  complexion 
and  call  her  "  a  very  fine  girl,"  while  those  who  were  not 
inclined  to  flatter  said  her  face  was  all  mouth,  and  de- 
clared, probably  untruly,  that  the  young  King  was  at  first 
obviously  repelled  by  the  plainness  of  his  wife's  appear- 
ance. If  she  was  plain,  her  plainness,  as  Northcote,  the 
painter,  said,  was  an  elegant,  not  a  vulgar  plainness,  and 
the  grace  of  her  carriage  much  impressed  him.  Walpole 
found  her  sensible,  cheerful,  and  remarkably  genteel,  a 
not  inconsiderable  eulogy  from  him.  She  was  fairly  edu- 
cated, as  the  education  of  princesses  went  in  those  days. 
She  knew  French  and  Italian,  knew  even  a  little  English. 
She  had  various  elegant  accomplishments — could  draw, 
and  dance,  and  play,  had  acquired  a  certain  measure  of 
scientific  knowledge,  and  she  had  what  was  better  than  all 
these  attainments,  a  good,  kindly,  sensible  nature.  The 
marriage  could  hardly  be  called  a  popular  marriage  at 
first.  Statesmen  and  politicians  thought  that  the  King  of 
England  ought  to  have  found  some  more  illustrious  con- 
sort than  the  daughter  of  a  poor  and  petty  German  House. 
The  people  at  large,  we  are  told  from  a  private  letter  of 
the  time,  were  "  quite  exasperated  at  her  not  being  hand- 
some," beauty  in  a  sovereign  being  a  great  attraction  to 
the  mass  of  subjects.  The  courtiers  in  general  were 
amused  by,  and  secretly  laughed  at,  her  simple  ways  and 
old-fashioned — or  at  least  un-English — manners. 

After  the  wedding  came  the  coronation,  a  very  resplend- 
ent ceremony,  which  was  not  free  from  certain  somewhat 
ludicrous  features,  and  was  not  denied  a  certain  tragic 
dignity.  It  was  enormously  expensive.  Horace  Walpole 
called  it  a  puppet-show  that  cost  a  million.  Loyal  London 
turned  out  in  its  thousands.  Surprisingly  large  sums  of 
money  were  paid  for  rooms  and  scaffolds  from  which  the 
outdoor  sight  could  be  seen,  and  much  larger  were  paid 


for  places  inside  the  Abbey.  It  was  very  gorgeous,  very 
long,  and  very  fatiguing.  The  spectator  carried  away, 
with  aching  senses,  a  confused  memory  of  many  soldiers, 
of  great  peers  ill  at  ease  in  unbecoming  habits,  of  beautiful 
women  beautifully  attired,  of  a  blaze  of  jewels  that  recalled 
the  story  of  Aladdin's  mine,  and  of  the  wonderful  effect 
by  which  the  darkness  of  Westminster  Hall  was  suddenly 
illuminated  by  an  ingenious  arrangement  of  sconces  that 
caught  fire  and  carried  on  the  message  of  light  with  great 
rapidity.  The  heralds  in  whose  hands  the  ceremonial 
arrangements  lay  bungled  their  business  badly,  causing 
fierce  heartburnings  by  confusions  in  precedence,  and 
displaying  a  lamentable  ignorance  of  the  names  and  the 
whereabouts  of  many  wearers  of  stately  and  ancient  titles. 
When  the  King  expressed  his  annoyance  at  some  of  the 
blunders,  Lord  Effingham,  the  Earl  Marshal,  offered,  for 
amazing  apology,  the  assurance  that  the  next  coronation 
would  be  conducted  with  perfect  order,  an  unfortunate 
speech,  which  had,  however,  the  effect  of  affording  the 
King  infinite  entertainment.  The  one  tragic  touch  in  the 
whole  day's  work  may  be  legend,  but  it  is  legend  that 
might  be  and  that  should  be  truth.  When  Dymoke,  the 
King's  Champion,  rode,  in  accordance  with  the  antique 
usage,  along  Westminster  Hall,  and  flung  his  glove  down 
in  challenge  to  any  one  who  dared  contest  his  master's 
right  to  the  throne  of  England,  it  is  said  that  some  one 
darted  out  from  the  crowd,  picked  up  the  glove,  slipped 
back  into  the  press,  and  disappeared,  without  being  stopped 
or  discovered.  According  to  one  version  of  the  incident,  it 
was  a  woman  who  did  the  deed;  according  to  another  it 
Avas  Charles  Edward  himself,  the  Young  Pretender — now 
no  longer  so  very  young — who  made  this  last  protest  on 
behalf  of  his  lost  fortunes  and  his  fallen  House.  It  is 
possible,  it  is  even  probable,  that  Charles  Edward  was  in 
London  then  and  thereafter,  and  it  seems  certain  that  if 
he  was  in  London  King  George  knew  of  it  and  ignored  it 
in  a  chivalrous  and  kingly  way.  The  Young  Pretender 
could  do  no  harm  now.  Stuart  hopes  had  burned  high  for 
a  moment,  fifteen  years  earlier,  when  a  handsome  young 

14  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.xlii. 

Prince  carried  his  invading  flag  halfway  through  England, 
and  a  King  who  was  neither  handsome  nor  young  was  ready 
to  take  ship  from  Tower  Stairs  if  worse  came  of  it.  But 
those  hopes  were  quenched  now,  down  in  the  dust,  extin- 
guished forever.  No  harm  could  come  to  the  House  of 
Hanover,  no  harm  could  come  to  the  King  of  England,  if 
at  Lady  Primrose's  house  in  St.  James's  Square  a  party 
should  be  interrupted  by  the  entrance  of  an  unexpected 
guest,  of  a  man  prematurely  aged  by  dissipation  and  dis- 
appointment, a  melancholy  ruin  of  what  had  once  been 
fair  and  noble,  and  in  whom  his  amazed  and  reverent 
hostess  recognized  the  last  of  the  fated  Stuarts.  There 
were  spies  among  those  who  still  professed  adherence 
to  Charles  Edward  and  allegiance  to  his  line,  spies  bearing 
names  honorable  in  Scottish  history,  who  were  always 
ready  to  keep  George  and  George's  ministers  posted  in  the 
movements  of  the  unhappy  Prince  they  betrayed.  George 
could  afford  to  be  magnanimous,  and  George  was  magnani- 
mous. If  it  pleased  the  poor  Pretender  to  visit,  like  a 
premature  ghost,  the  city  and  the  scenes  associated  with 
his  House  and  its  splendor  and  its  awful  tragedies,  he  did 
so  untroubled  and  unharmed.  It  was  but  a  cast  of  the 
dice  in  Fortune's  fingers,  and  Charles  Edward  would  have 
been  in  Westminster  Hall  and  had  a  champion  to  assert 
his  right.  But  the  cast  of  the  dice  went  the  other  way, 
and  George  the  Third  was  King,  and  his  little  German 
Princess  was  Queen  of  England. 

It  is  probable  that  those  early  days  in  London  were  the 
happiest  in  the  little  Queen's  long  life.  She  had  come 
from  exceeding  quiet  to  a  great  and  famous  city;  she  was 
the  centre  of  splendor;  she  was  surrounded  by  splendid 
figures ;  she  was  the  first  lady  of  a  great  land ;  she  was  the 
queen  of  a  great  king;  she  was  the  fortunate  wife  of  a 
loyal,  honorable,  and  pure-minded  man.  She  was  young, 
she  was  frank,  she  was  fond  of  all  innocent  pleasures, 
keenly  alive  to  all  the  entertainment  that  Court  and 
capital  could  ofi'er  her.  She  crammed  more  gayeties  into 
the  first  few  days  of  her  marriage  than  she  had  dreamed 
of  in  all  her  previous  life.     The  girl,  who  had  never  seen 


the  sea  until  she  took  ship  for  England,  had  never  seen  a 
play  acted  until  she  came  to  London.  Mecklenburg- Stre- 
litz  had  its  own  strong  ideas  about  the  folly  and  frivolity 
of  the  stage,  and  no  Puritan  maiden  in  the  sternest  days 
of  Cromwellian  ascendency,  no  Calvinist  daughter  of  the 
most  rigorous  Scottish  household,  could  have  been  edu- 
cated in  a  more  austere  ignorance  of  the  arts  that  are  sup- 
posed to  embellish  and  that  are  intended  to  amuse  exist- 
ence. She  went  to  playhouse  after  playhouse,  alarmed 
at  the  crowds  that  thronged  the  streets  to  see  her,  but 
fascinated  by  the  delights  that  awaited  her  within  the 
walls.  She  attended  the  opera.  She  saw  "  The  Beggar's 
Opera,*^  which  may  have  charmed  her  for  its  story  without 
perplexing  her  by  its  satire.  She  saw  "  The  Rehearsal," 
and  did  not  dream  that  twenty  years  later  the  humors  of 
Bayes,  which  she  probably  did  not  understand,  would  be 
eclipsed  forever  by  the  fantasies  of  Mr.  Puff.  She  car- 
ried the  King  to  Ranelagh,  to  that  amazing,  enchanting 
assembly  where  all  the  world  made  masquerade,  and  man- 
darins, harlequins,  shepherdesses,  and  much-translated 
pagan  divinities  jostled  each  other  through  Armida's 
gardens,  where  the  pink  of  fashion  and  the  plain  citizen, 
the  patrician  lady  and  the  plebeian  waiting-maid  made 
merry  together  in  a  motley  rout  of  Comus,  and  marvelled 
at  the  brilliancy  of  the  illuminations  and  the  many-colored 
glories  of  the  fireworks. 

The  London  to  which  the  little  Princess  came,  and  which 
she  found  so  full  of  entertainment,  was  a  very  different 
London  from  the  city  for  which  the  first  of  the  Georges 
had  quitted  reluctantly  the  pleasures  of  Hanover  and  the 
gardens  of  Herrenhausen.  The  Hanoverian  princes  had 
never  tried,  as  the  Stuart  sovereigns  had  tried,  to  stop  by 
peremptory  legislation  the  spread  of  the  metropolis.  Lon- 
don had  been  steadily  spreading  in  the  half-century  of 
Guelph  dominion,  eating  up  the  green  fields  in  all  direc- 
tions, linking  itself  with  little  lonely  hamlets  and  tiny 
rustic  villages,  and  weaving  them  close  into  the  web  of  its 
being,  choking  up  rural  streams  and  blotting  out  groves 
and  meadows  with  monuments  of  brick  and  mortar.  Where 

16  A  HISTORY  OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlii. 

the  friends  of  George  the  First  could  have  hunted  and 
gunned  and  found  refreshment  in  secluded  country  ale- 
houses, the  friends  of  George  the  Third  were  familiar  with 
miles  of  stony  streets  and  areas  of  arid  squares.  London 
was  not  then  the  monster  city  that  another  century  and 
a  half  has  made  it,  but  it  was  even  more  huge  in  its  pro- 
portion to  the  size  of  any  of  its  rivals,  if  rivals  they  could 
be  called,  among  the  large  towns  of  England.  The  great 
city  did  not  deserve  the  adjective  that  is  applied  to  it  by 
the  poet  of  Chevy  Chase.  London  was  by  no  means  lovely. 
However  much  it  might  have  increased  in  size,  it  had  in- 
creased very  little  in  beauty,  and  not  at  all  in  comfort 
since  the  days  when  an  Elector  of  Hanover  became  King 
of  England.  It  still  compared  only  to  its  disadvantage 
with  the  centres  of  civilization  on  the  Continent;  it  still 
was  rich  in  all  the  dangers  and  all  the  discomforts  Gay 
had  celebrated  nearly  two  generations  earlier.  And  these 
dangers  and  discomforts  were  not  confined  to  London. 
The  world  beyond  London  was  a  world  of  growing  pro- 
vincial towns  and  increasing  seaports  connected  by  toler- 
able and  sometimes  admirable  highways,  and  of  smaller 
towns  and  villages  reduced  for  the  most  part  to  an  almost 
complete  isolation  by  roads  that  were  always  nearly  and 
often  quite  impassable.  To  travel  much  in  England  in 
those  days  was  scarcely  less  adventurous  even  for  an  Eng- 
lishman than  to  travel  in  Africa  to-day;  for  a  foreigner 
the  adventure  was  indeed  environed  by  perils. 

Dress  and  manners  had  changed  in  the  Hanoverian  half- 
century,  though  not  as  much  as  they  were  to  change  in  the 
fifty  years  that  were  still  in  futurity.  Extravagance  of 
attire  still  persisted,  though. the  extravagance  had  changed 
its  expression.  The  gigantic  hoops  in  which  ladies  had  de- 
lighted had  diminished,  had  dwindled,  and  gowns  were  of 
a  slender  seemliness.  But  reformed  below,  fantasy  rioted 
above.  The  headdresses  of  women  in  the  early  days  of  the 
third  George  were  as  monstrous,  as  horrible,  and  as  shape- 
less in  their  way  as  the  hideous  hoops  had  been  in  theirs. 
Vast  pyramids  of  false  hair  were  piled  on  the  heads  of 
fashionable  ladies,  were  pasted  together  with  pomatums, 


were  smothered  in  powder  and  pricked  with  feathers  like 
the  headgear  of  a  savage.  These  odious  erections  took 
so  long  to  build  up  that  they  were  suffered  to  remain  in 
their  ugly  entirety  not  for  days  but  for  weeks  together, 
until  the  vast  structure  became  a  decomposing  mass.  It 
is  rather  ghastly  to  remember  that  youth  and  beauty  and 
grace  allowed  itself  to  be  so  loathsomely  adorned,  that 
the  radiant  women  whose  faces  smile  from  the  canvases 
of  great  painters,  and  whose  names  illuminate  the  chroni- 
cles of  the  wasted  time  of  the  reign  of  George  the  Third, 
were  condemned  to  dwell  with  corruption  in  consenting 
to  be  caricatured.  Till  far  on  in  the  lifetime  of  Queen 
Charlotte  the  fashion  in  women's  wear  oscillated  from  one 
extreme  to  another,  the  gracious  of  to-day  becoming  the 
grotesque  of  yesterday,  and  mode  succeeding  mode  with  the 
confusion  and  fascination  of  a  masquerade. 

The  men  were  no  less  remarkable  than  the  women  for 
the  clothes  they  wore,  no  less  capricious  in  their  changes. 
A  decided,  if  not  a  conspicuous,  turn  of  public  taste  had 
done  much  since  the  accession  of  the  first  George  to  mini- 
mize if  not  to  obliterate  the  differences  between  class  and 
class.  Men  no  longer  consented  readily  to  carry  the  badge 
of  their  calling  in  their  daily  costume,  and  the  great  world 
came  gradually  to  be  no  longer  divided  sharply  from  the 
little  world  by  marked  distinction  of  dress.  But  still, 
and  for  long  after  1760,  the  clothes  of  men  were  scarcely 
less  brilliant,  scarcely  less  importunate  in  their  demands 
unon  the  attention  of  their  wearers,  than  the  clothes  of 
women.  Men  made  a  brave  show  in  those  days.  A  group 
of  men  might  be  as  strong  in  color  and  as  vivid  in  contrast 
as  a  group  of  women;  the  neutralization  of  tone,  the  degra- 
dation of  hue,  did  not  begin  till  much  later,  and  only  con- 
quered in  the  cataclysm  of  the  birth-throes  of  two  repub- 
lics. Blue  and  scarlet,  green  and  yellow,  crimson  and 
})urple,  orange  and  plum-color  were  the  daily  wear  of  the 
well-to-do;  and  even  for  the  less  wealthy  there  were  the 
warm  browns  and  murreys,  the  bottle-greens  and  clarets, 
and  lavenders  and  buffs  which  made  any  crowd  a  thing  to 
please  a  painter  in  the  eighteenth  century.     In  all  the 

18  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlii. 

varying  breeds  of  beaux  and  macaronis  and  dandies,  of 
bucks  and  fribbles,  into  which  the  fine  gentlemen  of  the  age 
allowed  themselves  to  be  classified,  the  one  dominant  feat- 
ure, the  one  common  characteristic,  was  the  love  for  gold 
and  silver  and  fine  laces,  for  gaudiness  of  color  and  rich- 
ness of  ornament,  for  every  kind  of  exquisite  extravagance, 
every  refinement  in  foppishness.  There  was  a  passion  for 
the  punctilio  of  dress,  for  the  grace  of  a  gold-headed  cane 
and  a  chased  sword-hilt,  for  the  right  ribbon,  the  right 
jewel,  the  right  flower,  and  the  right  perfume,  for  the 
right  powder  in  the  hair  and  the  right  seals  on  the  fob 
and  the  right  heels  and  buckles  on  the  shoes.  There  was 
an  ardent  appreciation,  an  uncompromising  worship  of  the 
fine  feathers  that  make  fine  birds. 

The  social  system  of  the  polite  world  had  been  slowly 
changing  with  the  successive  Georges.  The  familiar  events 
in  the  lives  of  the  well-to-do  classes  were  growing  steadily 
later.  The  dinner  hour,  which  was  generally  at  noon  or 
one  in  the  reign  of  Queen  Anne,  had  crept  on  to  three 
o'clock  under  the  first,  and  to  four  o'clock  under  the 
second  George.  Under  the  third  it  was  to  grow  later  and 
later,  until  it  made  Horace  Walpole  rage  as  if  the  world 
were  coming  to  an  end  because  among  fashionable  folk 
it  had  settled  itself  at  six  o'clock.  In  the  country,  indeed, 
for  the  most  part  people  lived  the  quiet  lives  and  kept  the 
early  hours  of  Sir  Roger  de  Coverley.  But,  however,  Lon- 
don lived,  and  whatever  London  chose  to  do,  England's 
simple  honest  King  and  England's  simple  honest  Queen 
would  have  no  concern  with  the  follies  of  fashion  and  the 
luxuries  of  late  hours.  However  much  the  rashness  and 
wrong-headedness  of  his  public  policy  forced  him  to  ac- 
cept the  services  and  prime  the  pockets  of  a  gang  of 
drunkards  and  debauchees  who  called  themselves  and 
were  called  the  King's  friends,  the  evil  communications 
had  not  the  slightest  influence  upon  the  royal  good  man- 
ners, and  did  not  alter  by  one  jot  the  rigid  frugality  of 
George's  life  and  that  of  his  royal  consort.  The  King's 
friends  were  only  the  King's  jackals;  they  never  were  suf- 
fered for  a  moment  to  cross  the  line  which  severed  the 


sovereign's  private  life  from  his  public  actions.  Indeed, 
it  may  be  assumed  that  few  of  the  hard-drinking,  hard- 
living,  gambling,  raking  ruffians  who  battened  on  the 
King's  bounty,  and  who  voted  white  black  and  good  bad 
with  uncompromising  pertinacity  and  unappeasable  relish, 
would  have  welcomed  the  hard  seats  at  the  royal  table, 
the  meagre  fare  on  the  royal  platters,  the  homely  countri- 
fied air  the  royal  couple  breathed,  and  the  homely  countri- 
fied hour  at  which  the  royal  couple  took  up  their  candles 
and  went  to  bed.  George  the  Third  would  be  long  asleep 
at  an  hour  when  his  friends  would  be  thinking  of  paying 
a  visit  to  Ranelagh,  or  preparing  to  spend  a  pleasant  even- 
ing over  their  cards,  their  dice-box,  and  their  wine. 

Especially  their  wine.  The  one  great  characteristic  of 
the  gentility  of  the  day  was  its  capacity  for  drinking  wine. 
"  Wine,  dear  child,  and  truth,"  says  a  Greek  poet,  naming 
the  two  most  admirable  gifts  of  life.  Truth  was  not  always 
very  highly  prized  by  the  men  who  set  manners  and  made 
history  in  the  second  half  of  the  eighteenth  century,  but 
to  wine  they  clung  with  an  absolutely  unswerving  and  un- 
alterable attachment.  If  the  great  Oriental  scholar  who 
adorned  the  age  had  been  more  fortunate  in  his  studies,  if 
Sir  William  Jones  had  chanced  to  make  acquaintance  with 
a  Persian  poet  who  has  since  become  very  famous  among 
Englishmen,  he  would  have  found  in  the  quatrains  of 
Omar  Khayyam  the  very  verses  to  please  the  minds  and 
to  interpret  the  desires  of  the  majority  of  the  statesmen, 
soldiers,  divines,  lawyers,  and  fine  gentlemen  of  the  day. 
It  is  as  impossible  to  imagine  the  men  of  the  eighteenth 
centurv  without  their  incessant  libations  of  wine  as  it  is 
impossible  to  imagine  what  the  eighteenth  century  would 
have  been  like  if  it  had  been  for  the  most  part  abstemious, 
sober,  or  even  reasonably  temperate.  As  we  read  the  me- 
moirs of  the  day,  and  if  we  believe  only  a  part  of  what 
they  tell  us,  making  the  most  liberal  allowance  for  the 
exaggeration  of  the  wit  and  the  satire  of  the  cynic,  we  have 
to  picture  the  political  and  social  life  of  the  time  as  a 
drunken  orgy.  Undoubtedly  there  were  then,  as  always, 
men  of  decent  behavior  and  discreet  life,  men  who  would 

20  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlii. 

no  more  have  exceeded  in  wine  than  in  any  other  way. 
But  the  temper  of  the  age  and  the  tone  of  the  fashionable 
world  was  not  in  tune  with  their  austerity.  Wonder  at  the 
frequency  with  which  men  of  position  got  drunk  then  is 
only  rivalled  by  wonder  at  the  amount  which  they  could 
drink  without  getting  drunk. 

The  cry  of  the  Persian  nightingale  to  the  Persian  rose, 
"  wine,  wine,  wine,"  was  the  cry  to  which  hearts  responded 
most  readily  in  all  the  Georgian  era.  Walpole  the  father 
made  Walpole  the  son  drink  too  much,  that  he  might  not 
be  unfilially  sober  while  his  father  was  unpaternally  drunk. 
A  generation  later  the  younger  Pitt  plied  himself  with 
port  as  a  medicine  for  the  gout.  The  statesmen  of  the 
period,  in  the  words  of  Sir  George  Trevelyan,  sailed  on  a 
sea  of  claret  from  one  comfortable  official  haven  to  an- 
other. The  amount  of  liquor  consumed  by  each  man  at  a 
convivial  gathering  was  Gargantuan,  prodigious,  hardly  to 
be  credited.  Thackeray  tells,  in  some  recently  published 
notes  for  his  lectures  on  the  four  Georges,  of  a  Scotch 
judge  who  was  forced  to  drink  water  for  two  months,  and 
being  asked  what  was  the  effect  of  the  regime,  owned  that  he 
saw  the  world  really  as  it  was  for  the  first  time  for  twenty 
years;  For  a  quarter  of  a  century  he  had  never  been  quite 
sober.  This  man  might  be  taken  as  a  type  of  the  bons 
vivants,  the  huveurs  tres  illustres  of  the  eighteenth  cen- 
tury. They  were  never  quite  sober  all  through  their  lives. 
They  never  saw  the  world  as  it  really  was.  They  pleaded, 
preached,  debated,  fought,  gambled,  loved,  and  hated 
under  the  influence  of  their  favorite  vintage,  saw  all  things 
through  a  vinous  fume,  and  judged  all  things  with  in- 
flamed pulses  and  a  reeling  brain.  But  it  must  not  be 
forgotten  that  the  population  of  the  country  was  not  en- 
tirely composed  of  corrupt,  hard-drinking  politicians,  prof- 
ligate, hard-drinking  noblemen,  and  furious,  hard-drink- 
ing country  gentlemen.  If  these  were,  in  a  sense,  the 
more  conspicuous  types,  there  were  other  types  very  dif- 
ferent and  very  admirable.  Apart  from  the  great  mass 
of  the  people,  living  their  dull  daily  lives,  doing  their 
dull  daily  tasks,  quiet,  ignorant,  unconscious  that  they 

1761.        UNPROPITIOUS  TIME  FOR  THE   KING'S   RULE.  ^1 

could  or  should  ever  have  any  say  in  the  disposition  of 
their  existences,  there  were  both  in  town  and  country 
plenty  of  decent,  sober,  honorable,  and  upright  men  and 
women  who  had  nothing  in  common  with  the  fine  gentle- 
men and  the  fine  ladies  who  fill  the  historical  fashion 
plates.  If,  unfortunately,  Squire  Western  and  Parson 
Truliber  were  true  pictures,  at  least  Parson  Adam  and  Sir 
Eoger  de  Coverley  still  held  good.  None  the  less  a  young, 
self-willed  King,  not  too  intelligent  and  not  too  well  edu- 
cated, could  scarcely  have  come  to  his  sovereignty  at  a 
time  less  like  to  be  fruitful  of  good  for  him  or  for  the 
country  that  he  was  resolved  to  govern. 

22  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.xliii. 



The  King  was  not  lucky  in  his  first  act  of  sovereignty. 
In  his  speech  at  the  opening  of  Parliament  on  Novemljcr 
18,  1760,  he  used  a  form  of  words  which  lie.  and  some  of 
those  who  advised  him,  evidently  believed  to  be  eminently 
calculated  to  advance  his  popularity.  "  Born  and  edu- 
cated in  this  country,  I  glory  in  the  name  of  Briton,"  the 
King  said;  and  the  words  would  seem  to  suggest  such  an 
intimacy  of  association  between  the  King  and  the  kingdom 
as  must  needs  knit  the  hearts  of  ruler  and  of  ruled  more 
closely  together.  Yet  the  choice  of  words  gave  offence  in 
certain  quarters,  and  for  two  quite  distinct  reasons.  Many 
of  the  adherents  and  admirers  of  the  late  King — for  even 
George  the  Second  had  his  admirers — were  indignant  at  the 
contrast  which  the  new  King  seemed  deliberately  to  draw 
between  himself  and  his  grandfather.  In  accentuating  the 
fact  that  he  was  born  and  bred  in  England,  George  the 
Third  appeared  by  imputation  to  be  casting  a  slur  upon  the 
German  nature  and  German  prejudices  of  George  the  Sec- 
ond. This  boast,  however  much  it  might  offend  the  feelings 
of  the  friends  of  the  late  King,  was  not  at  all  calculated  to 
affect  the  mass  of  the  public,  who  had  little  love  for  George 
the  Second,  and  whose  affection  for  the  new  King  was 
based  mainly  on  the  hope  and  the  assumption  that  he 
would  prove  to  be  as  unlike  the  old  King  as  possible.  But 
there  was  another  interpretation  to  be  put  upon  the  royal 
words  which  was  likely  to  cause  a  wider  impression  and  a 
wider  hostility.  It  would  seem  that  some  of  the  King's 
advisers  wished  him  to  write  that  he  gloried  in  the  name  of 
Englishman;  it  would  even  seem  that  the  King  had  actu- 
ally used  this  word  in  the  written  draft  of  his  speech. 

1760.  GEORGE    THE   THIRD    AS   A    "BRITOX."  23 

Lord  Bute,  it  was  said,  had  struck  out  the  word  "  English- 
man/' and  had  induced  the  King  to  accept  the  word 
"  Briton  ^'  as  a  substitute.  The  difference  would  not  be 
quite  without  moment  now:  it  appeared  very  momentous 
to  many  then,  who  read  in  the  word  chosen  a  most  con- 
vincing proof  of  the  Scotch  influence  behind  the  throne. 
The  King's  pride  in  styling  himself  a  Briton  was  taken  to 
be,  what  indeed  it  was,  evidence  of  his  affection  for  the 
Scotch  peer  who  had  been  so  lately  sworn  into  his  Privy 
Council ;  and  the  alarm  and  indignation  of  all  who  resent- 
ed the  Scotch  influence  was  very  great.  The  Duke  of  New- 
castle in  especial  was  irritated  by  the  use  of  the  word 
"  Briton,"  and  the  evidence  it  forced  upon  him  of  his  own 
waning  influence  and  the  waxing  power  of  Bute.  He  even 
went  so  far  as  to  wish  that  some  notice  should  be  taken  of 
the  "  royal  words  "  both  in  the  motion  and  the  address ; 
but  in  the  end  he  and  those  who  thought  with  him  felt 
that  they  must  submit  and  stifle  their  anger  for  the 
time,  and  so  the  King,  unchallenged,  proclaimed  himself  a 

Whatever  else  George  had  learned  in  the  days  of  his 
tutelage,  he  had  learned  to  form  an  ideal  of  what  a  king 
should  be  and  a  determination  to  realize  that  ideal  in  his 
own  rule.  The  old  idea  of  the  personal  authority  of  the 
sovereign  seemed  to  be  passing  away,  to  be  dropping  out 
of  the  whole  scheme  and  S3'stem  of  the  English  Constitu- 
tion along  with  the  belief  in  the  theory  of  the  Divine  right 
of  kings.  The  new  King,  however,  was  resolved  to  prove 
that  he  was  the  head  of  the  state  in  fact  as  well  as  in  name ; 
that  with  his  own  hands  he  would  restore  to  himself  the 
power  and  authority  which  his  grandfather  and  his  great- 
grandfather had  allowed  unwisely  to  slip  through  their 
fingers.  The  difficulties  in  the  way  of  such  an  enterprise 
might  very  well  have  disheartened  any  being  less  head- 
strong, any  spirit  less  stubborn.  There  were  forces  opposed 
to  him  that  seemed  to  overmatch  his  puny  purpose  as  much 
as  the  giants  overmatched  the  pigmy  hero  of  the  nursery 
tale.  St.  George  in  the  chivalrous  legend  had  but  one 
dragon  to  destroy;  the  young  royal  St.  George  set  himself 

24  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xliii. 

with  a  light  heart  to  attack  a  whole  brood  of  dragons — 
the  dragons  of  the  great  Whig  party. 

When  George  the  Third  came  to  the  throne  the  govern- 
ment of  the  country  was  entirely  in  the  hands  of  the 
Whigs.  The  famous  stately  Whig  Houses,  the  Houses  of 
Cavendish,  of  Eussell,  of  Temple,  of  Bentinck,  of  Man- 
ners, of  Fitzroy,  of  Lennox,  of  Conway,  of  Pelham,  of 
Wentworth,  were  as  little  subservient  to  the  sovereign  as 
the  great  Frankish  nobles  who  stood  about  the  throne  of 
the  Do-nothing  kings.  The  Tory  party  was  politically 
almost  non-existent.  No  Tory  filled  any  office,  great  or 
little,  that  was  at  the  disposal  of  the  Whigs,  and  the  Whigs 
had  retained  their  ascendency  for  well-nigh  half  a  cen- 
tury. Jacobitism  had  been  the  ruin  of  the  Tory  cause. 
All  Tories  were  not  Jacobites,  but,  roughly  speaking,  all 
Jacobites  were  Tories,  and  there  were  still,  even  at  the 
date  of  George's  accession,  stout-hearted,  thick-headed  Tory 
gentlemen  who  believed  in  or  vaguely  hoped  for  a  pos- 
sible restoration  of  a  Stuart  prince.  It  is  curious  to  find 
that,  though  the  Whig. ranks  stood  fast  in  defence  of  the 
House  of  Hanover,  had  made  that  House,  and  owed  their 
ascendency  to  their  loyalty  to  that  House,  the  latest 
Hanoverian  sovereign  not  only  disliked  them,  but  dealt 
them  blow  after  blow  until  he  overthrew  their  rule.  The 
Tories,  who  sighed  for  a  Stuart  prince  over  the  water, 
suddenly  found  to  their  astonishment  that  they  had  a 
friend  in  the  Hanoverian  Guelph,  whose  name  they  hated, 
whose  right  to  the  throne  they  challenged,  and  whose 
authority  they  derided,  when  they  dared  not  despise. 

It  cannot  be  denied  that  the  Whigs  had  often  abused, 
and  more  than  abused,  the  privileges  which  their  long  lease 
of  power  had  given  to  them.  All  political  parties  ruled 
by  corruption  during  the  last  century.  The  Whig  was  not 
more  corrupt  than  the  Tory,  but  it  can  hardly  be  main- 
tained that  he  was  less  corrupt.  The  great  Whig  Houses 
bought  their  way  to  power  with  resolute  unscrupulousness. 
A  majority  in  either  House  was  simply  a  case  of  so  much 
money  down.  The  genius  of  Walpole  had  secured  his  own 
pre-eminence  at  the  cost  of  the  almost  total  degradation 

1761.     THE  CORRUPT   METHODS  OF  THE  WHIG  PARTY.         25 

of  the  whole  administrative  system  of  the  country.  When 
George  the  Third  came  to  the  throne  the  Whigs  were 
firmly  established  in  a  powerful  league  of  bigotry  and  in 
tolerance,  cemented  by  corruj^tion,  by  bribery,  by  purchase 
of  the  most  uncompromising,  of  the  basest  kind.  George 
the  Third  had  fostered  through  youthful  years  of  silence 
those  strong  ideas  of  his  own  about  the  importance  of  the 
kingly  office  which  he  was  now  to  proclaim  by  his  deeds. 
In  the  way  of  those  strong  ideas,  in  the  way  of  the  stead- 
fast determination  to  be  King  in  fact  as  well  as  in  name, 
stood  the  great  Whig  faction,  flushed  with  its  more  than 
forty  years'  debauch  of  power,  insolent  in  the  sense  of  its 
own  omnipotence.  George  was  resolute  to  show  that  the 
claim  to  omnipotence  was  a  sham,  and,  to  do  him  justice, 
he  succeeded  in  his  resolve. 

At  the  head  of  the  Whig  party  in  the  House  of  Lords 
was  the  Duke  of  Newcastle.  At  its  head  in  the  House  of 
Commons  was  William  Pitt.  These  two  ministers  seemed 
fixed  and  irremovable  in  their  supreme  authority.  While 
Newcastle  lavished  the  money  of  the  state  in  that  spacious 
system  of  bribery  which  welded  the  party  into  so  formi- 
dable a  mass,  it  was  the  proud  privilege  of  Pitt  to  illumi- 
nate its  policy  by  his  splendid  eloquence  at  home  and  by  the 
splendor  of  his  enterprises  abroad.  Both  the  ministers 
were  an  enormous  expense  to  the  country.  Newcastle 
never  counted  the  cost  so  long  as  there  was  a  county  mem- 
ber to  be  bought  or  a  placeman  to  be  satisfied.  Pitt  never 
counted  the  cost  so  long  as  he  could  add  another  trophy 
of  victory  to  the  walls  of  Westminster  Abbey  and  inscribe 
another  triumph  on  England's  roll  of  battles.  The  sordid 
skill  of  Newcastle  and  the  dazzling  genius  of  Pitt  seemed 
between  them  to  make  the  Whig  party  invulnerable  and 
irresistible.  There  was  no  opposition  in  Upper  or  Lower 
House;  there  had  been  for  many  years  no  hint  of  royal 
opposition.  Everything  promised  a  long  continuance  of 
the  undisputed  Whig  sway  when  suddenly  the  secret  de- 
termination of  a  young  King  and  the  secret  instigations 
of  a  Scotch  peer  dissipated  the  stately  fabric  that  had 
endured  so  long. 

26  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xliii. 

The  fixed  purpose  of  Lord  Bute  was  to  get  rid  of  Pitt. 
The  fixed  purpose  of  Lord  Bute  created  the  fixed  purpose 
of  the  King,  and  the  hours  of  Pitt's  administration  were 
numbered.  After  a  season  of  rare  glory,  of  resplendent 
triumph,  Pitt  found  himself  face  to  face  with  a  formida- 
ble coalition  of  interests  against  him,  a  coalition  of  inter- 
ests none  the  less  formidable  because  it  was  headed  by  a 
man  for  whose  attainments,  opinions,  and  ability  Pitt  must 
have  felt,  and  scarcely  concealed,  the  greatest  contempt. 
Pitt  had  not  made  himself  an  object  of  personal  affection 
to  those  with  whom  he  was  brought  into  immediate  con- 
tact. In  the  time  of  his  supremacy  he  had  carried  himself 
with  a  haughty  arrogance,  with  an  austere  disdain  which 
had  set  the  smaller  men  about  him  raging  in  secret  antag- 
onism. The  King,  driven  on  by  his  own  dreams  of  per- 
sonal authority,  disliked  the  great  minister.  Bute,  drunk 
with  the  wild  ambitions  of  a  weak  man,  seems  to  have 
believed  that  in  succeeding  to  Pitt's  place  he  could  also 
succeed  to  Pitt's  genius.  Pitt  soon  became  aware  of  the 
strength  of  the  cabal  against  him.  While  some  of  his  col- 
leagues were  disaffected,  others  were  almost  openly  treach- 
erous. Bute's  manner  waxed  more  arrogant  in  Council. 
The  King's  demeanor  grew  daily  cooler.  The  great  ques- 
tion of  war  or  peace  was  the  question  that  divided  the  Cabi- 
net. On  a  question  of  war  or  peace  Bute  triumphed  and 
Pitt  fell. 

Pitt  was  all  for  carrying  on  the  war,  which  had  thus 
far  proved  so  successful  for  the  British  flag.  But  Pitt  was 
not  powerfully  supported  in  his  belief.  If  he  had  his 
brothers-in-law  James  Grenville  and  Lord  Temple  on  his 
side,  he  had  ranged  against  him  a  powerful  opposition 
formed  by  Henry  Fox  and  George  Grenville,  by  Lord 
Hardwicke  and  the  Duke  of  Bedford.  On  the  side  of  the 
peace  party  Bute  ranged  himself,  bringing  with  him  all 
the  enormous  weight  that  his  influence  with  the  King  gave 
him.  The  case  of  the  peace  party  was  a  simple,  straight- 
forward case.  Why,  they  asked,  should  we  continue  to 
fight  ?  Our  sweet  enemy  France  is  on  her  knees  and  ready 
to  accept  our  terms.    Let  us  enforce  those  terms  and  make 

1761.  PITT'S  PROBITY.  27 

a  triumphant  peace  instead  of  further  bleeding  our  ex- 
hausted treasury  in  the  prosecution  of  a  war  from  which 
we  have  now  nothing  more  to  gain.  Chance  gave  the  peace 
party  their  opportunity.  Pitt  had  become  cognizant  of 
the  treaty  between  France  and  Spain  known  as  the  "  Fam- 
ily Compact/'  the  secret  treaty  which  we  have  already 
fully  described,  by  which  the  two  Bourbon  princes  agreed 
to  make  common  cause  against  England.  Pitt  straight- 
way proposed  that  the  hostile  purposes  of  Spain  should 
be  anticipated  by  an  immediate  declaration  of  war  against 
Spain  and  the  immediate  despatch  of  a  fleet  to  Cadiz.  Bute 
promptly  opposed  the  proposal  in  the  Cabinet,  and  carried 
the  majority  of  the  Council  with  him  in  his  opposition. 
Pitt  instantly  resigned. 

A  curious  thing  had  happened  at  the  coronation  cere- 
mony. One  of  the  largest  jewels  in  the  royal  crown  got 
loose  and  fell  from  its  place.  This  was  looked  upon  at  the 
time  by  superstitious  people  as  a  sinister  omen.  These 
now  saw  the  fulfilment  of  their  forebodings  in  the  loss  to 
the  state  of  the  services  of  the  great  minister.  The  King 
himself  had  no  sense  that  his  regal  glory  was  dimmed  in 
its  lustre  by  the  resignation  of  Pitt.  He  was  so  delighted 
at  having  got  rid  thus  easily  of  the  great  obstacle  to  his 
own  authority  that  he  could  readily  consent  to  lend  to  the 
act  of  parting  a  gracious  air  of  regret.  Much  was  done  to 
lighten  Pitf s  fall.  Very  liberal  offers  were  made  by  the 
King,  offers  which  seemed  to  many  to  mask  a  hope,  and 
more  than  a  hope,  of  undermining  the  popularity  of  the 
great  leader.  Pitt  declined  several  offers  that  were  per- 
sonal to  himself,  but  expressed  his  readiness  to  accept  some 
signs  of  the  royal  favor  on  behalf  of  his  wife  and  his 
family.  A  barony  was  conferred  upon  Pitt's  wife  and  a 
pension  of  three  thousand  a  year  upon  Pitt  for  three  lives. 
There  was  nothing  unworthy  in  Pitt's  action.  He  was 
notoriously  poor ;  he  was  no  less  notoriously  honest ;  it  was 
perfectly  certain  that,  in  an  age  when  a  successful  poli- 
tician was  for  the  most  part  a  peculator,  no  shilling  of 
public  money  had  ever  stuck  to  Pitt's  fingers.  If  he  was 
instantly  attacked  by  libels  and  pamphlets  that  were  prob- 

28  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  cfl.  xliii. 

ably  paid  for  by  Bute,  or  that  at  least  were  inspired  by 
a  desire  to  please  Bute,  the  attacks  did  Pitt  more  good 
than  harm.  They  produced  a  prompt  reaction,  and  only 
had  the  effect  of  making  Pitt  more  dear  to  the  people  than 
before.  His  pictures  had  an  enormous  sale,  and  his  par- 
tisans on  the  press  poured  out  caricatures  and  lampoons 
upon  Bute  and  his  Scotchmen  in  greater  volume  and  with 
greater  violence  than  ever. 

Bute  was  not  content  with  the  overthrow  of  Pitt.  He 
wished  to  stand  in  isolated  splendor,  and  to  accomplish 
this  Newcastle  too  must  go.  The  great  briber  of  yesterday 
had  to  give  way  to  the  great  briber  of  to-day,  and  Bute 
stood  alone  before  the  world,  the  head  of  the  King's  Min- 
istry, the  favorite  of  the  King,  the  champion  of  a  policy 
that  promised  peace  abroad  and  purity  at  home,  and  that 
resulted  in  a  renewal  of  war  under  conditions  of  peculiar 
disadvantage  and  a  renewed  employment  of  the  basest 
forms  of  political  corruption.  Bute  had  gained  the  power 
he  longed  for,  but  Bute  was  soon  to  learn  that  power  need 
not  and  did  not  mean  popularity.  "  The  new  Administra- 
tion begins  tempestuously,"  Walpole  wrote  on  June  20, 
1762.  "  My  father  was  not  more  abused  after  twenty 
years  than  Lord  Bute  is  after  twenty  days.  Weekly  papers 
swarm,  and,  like  other  swarms  of  insects,  sting."  Bute 
affected  an  indifference  to  this  unpopularity  which  he  did 
not  really  feel.  It  is  not  flattering  to  a  statesman's  pride 
to  be  unable  to  go  abroad  without  being  hissed  and  pelted 
by  the  mob,  and  it  is  hard  for  a  minister  to  convince  him- 
self of  the  admiration  of  a  nation  when  a  strong  body- 
guard is  necessary  to  secure  him  from  the  constant  danger 
of  personal  attacks.  Bute's  character  did  not  refine  under 
the  tests  imposed  upon  it.  His  objectionable  qualities 
grew  more  and  more  unpopular.  The  less  he  was  liked 
the  less  he  deserved  to  be  liked.  Adversity  did  not  magnify 
that  small  soul.  In  his  mean  anger  he  sought  for  mean 
revenge.  Every  person  who  owed  an  appointment  to  the 
former  ministry  felt  the  weight  of  the  favorite's  wrath. 
Dismissal  from  office  was  the  order  of  the  day,  and  Whig 
after  Whig  was  forced  to  leave  his  place  or  office  open  for 


some  Tory  who  was  ready  to  express  an  enthusiasm  for 
the  statesmanship  of  Bute. 

Bute's  idea  of  a  foreign  policy  was  to  reverse  the  policy 
of  Pitt.  He  abandoned  Frederick  of  Prussia  to  his 
enemies  by  cutting  off  the  subsidy  which  Pitt  had  paid 
him,  on  the  ground  that  the  time  agreed  on  for  the  subsidy 
was  up,  and  that  as  England  only  granted  it  for  her  own 
purposes,  and  not  to  benefit  Frederick,  she  was  justified  in 
discontinuino:  it  whenever  it  suited  her.  Onlv  a  chance 
saved  the  Great  Frederick  from  what  seemed  like  inevi- 
table ruin.  The  Czarina,  Elizabeth  of  Russia,  died,  and 
was  succeeded  by  Peter  the  Third.  With  the  change  of 
sovereign  came  a  change  in  the  purposes  of  Russia.  The 
Russian  army,  which  had  fought  with  Austria  against 
Frederick,  now  received  orders  to  fight  with  Frederick 
against  Austria.  The  war  with  Spain  that  Pitt  had  pre- 
dicted Bute  was  obliged  to  wage.  The  conduct  of  Spain 
made  it  impossible  for  him  not  to  declare  war,  and,  aided 
by  Pitt's  preparations,  he  was  able  to  carry  on  the  war 
with  considerable  success.  But  the  credit  for  such  success 
was  generally  given  to  Pitt,  and  when  Bute  made  peace 
Avith  Spain  and  France  it  was  generally  felt  that  the  terms 
were  not  such  as  Pitt  Avould  have  exacted  after  so  long  and 
splendid  a  succession  of  victories.  There  was,  indeed,  a 
good  deal  to  be  said  for  the  peace,  but  at  the  time  those  who 
tried  to  say  it  did  not  get  a  very  patient  hearing.  It  was 
well  that  the  Ions:  Continental  war  was  ended.  Few  of 
those  engaged  in  it  had  gained  much  by  it.  Prussia,  in- 
deed, though  it  left  her  wellnigh  bankrupt  and  almost 
ruined  by  the  enormous  burdens  she  had  sustained,  was 
better  in  position.  She  came  out  of  the  struggle  without 
the  loss  of  a  sino^le  acre  of  territorv,  and  with  what  Fred- 
erick  especially  coveted,  the  rank  of  a  first-rate  Power  in 
Europe.  If  Prussia,  which  had  been  so  long  England's 
ally,  had  gained,  England  had  not  lost.  Undoubtedly 
Pitt's  war  was  popular;  no  less  undoubtedly  Bute's  peace 
was  unpopular,  and  the  unpopularity  of  the  policy  intensi- 
fied the  unpopularity  of  the  minister.  In  the  eyes  of  the 
bulk  of  the  English  people  Lord  Bute,  as  a  Scotchman,  was 

30  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  xuii. 

a  foreigner,  as  much  a  foreigner  as  if  he  hailed  from 
France  or  the  Low  Countries.  Lord  Chesterfield  was 
finely  disdainful  of  the  popular  opposition  to  Bute  on 
account  of  his  nationality.  "  If  the  vulgar  are  ever  right," 
he  said,  "  Ihey  are  right  for  the  wrong  reason.  What  they 
selected  to  attack  in  Lord  Bute  was  his  being  a  Scotchman, 
which  was  precisely  what  he  could  not  help."  But  it  was 
not  Bute's  nationality,  so  much  as  his  flagrant  partiality 
to  his  fellow-countrymen,  that  made  him  unpopular.  His 
affection  for  his  own  countrymen,  however  admirable  and 
even  touching  in  itself,  was  resented  fiercely  by  the  Eng- 
lish people,  who  found  themselves  threatened  by  a  new 
invasion  of  the  Picts  and  Scots.  Across  the  Border  came 
a  steady  stream  of  Bute's  henchmen,  men  with  names  that 
seemed  outlandish  and  even  savage  to  the  Londoner,  and 
every  Scotchman  found,  or  hoped  to  find,  through  the  in- 
fluence of  Bute  his  way  to  office  and  emolument.  The 
growing  hatred  for  Bute  extended  itself  as  rapidly  as  un- 
justly to  the  nation  from  which  Bute  came. 

The  story  of  Bute's  Ministry  is  a  story  of  astonishing 
mistakes.  The  Tories,  who  for  five-and-f orty  years  had  in- 
veighed against  the  political  corruption  which,  fostered  by 
Walpole,  seemed  to  have  culminated  under  Newcastle,  now 
boldly  went  in  for  a  system  of  flagrant  bribery  which  sur- 
passed anything  yet  essa3'ed  by  the  most  cynical  of  Whig 
ministers.  The  Paymaster's  Office  became  a  regular  mart 
where  parliamentary  votes  were  bought  and  sold  as  un- 
blushingly  as  humbler  folk  bought  and  sold  groceries 
across  a  counter.  A  Ministry  weakened  by  an  unpopular 
peace,  and  only  held  together  by  such  cynical  merchan- 
dise, was  not  likely  to  withstand  a  strong  storm,  and  the 
storm  w^as  not  long  in  rising. 

To  swell  the  exchequer,  the  Ministry  proposed  to  raise 
revenue  by  a  tax  on  cider  and  perry.  It  was  resolved  to 
levy  an  imposition  of  four  shillings  per  hogshead  on  the 
grower  of  the  apple  wine  and  the  pear  wine.  The  cider 
counties  raised  a  clamor  of  indignation  that  found  a  ready 
echo  in  London.  Pitt,  Beckford,  Lyttelton,  Hardwicke, 
Temple,    all    spoke    against    the    proposed    measure    and 


denounced  its  injustice.  George  Grenville  defended  the 

Grenville  was  one  of  those  honorable  and  upright  states- 
men who  do  not  contrive  to  make  either  honor  or  rectitude 
seem  lovable  qualities.  He  had  first  made  himself  con- 
spicuous as  one  of  the  Boy  Patriots  who  rallied  with  Pitt 
against  Walpole.  His  abilities  ran  with  swiftness  along 
few  and  narrow  channels.  He  was  desperately  well  in- 
formed about  many  things,  and  desperately  in  earnest 
about  anything  which  he  undertook.  Blessed  or  cursed 
with  a  solemnity  that  never  was  enlivened  by  a  gleam  of 
humor,  a  ray  of  fancy,  or  a  ilash  of  eloquence,  Grenville 
regarded  the  House  of  Commons  with  the  cold  ferocity 
of  a  tyrannical  and  pompous  schoolmaster.  A  style  of 
speech  that  would  have  made  a  discourse  upon  Greek 
poetry  seem  arid  and  a  dissertation  upon  Italian  painting 
colorless — if  it  were  possible  to  conceive  Grenville  as  wast- 
ing time  or  thought  on  such  trifles — added  no  grace  to  the 
exposition  of  a  fiscal  measure  or  charm  to  the  formality 
of  a  phalanx  of  figures.  He  was  gloomy,  dogged,  domi- 
neering, and  small-minded.  His  nearest  approach  to  a 
high  passion  was  his  worship  of  economy;  his  nearest  ap- 
proach to  a  splendid  virtue  was  his  stubborn  independence. 
He  abandoned  Pitt  for  Bute  because  he  detested  Pitt's 
prodigal  policy,  but  Bute  was  the  more  deceived  if  he 
fancied  that  he  was  to  find  in  Grenville  the  convenient 
mask  that  he  had  lost  in  ISTewcastle ;  and  the  King  himself 
had  yet  to  learn  how  indifferent  the  dry,  morose  pedant 
and  preacher  could  be  not  merely  to  royal  favor,  but  even 
to  the  expression  of  royal  opinion.  It  was  truly  said  of 
him  by  the  greatest  of  his  contemporaries  that  he  seemed 
to  have  no  delight  out  of  the  House  except  in  such  things 
as  in  some  way  related  to  the  business  that  was  to  be  done 
within  it.  The  "  undissipated  and  unwearied  application  " 
which  he  devoted  to  everything  that  he  undertook  was 
now  employed  in  exasperating  the  country.  The  time 
was  not  yet  ripe  for  it  to  be  employed  in  dismembering  the 

In  his  support  of  Uie  cider  tax  Grenville  managed  to 

32  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xliii 

make  it  and  himself  ridiculous  at  the  same  time.  In  his 
defence  he  kept  asking,  over  and  over  again,  "Where  will 
you  find  another  tax?  tell  me  where."  Pitt,  who  was  lis- 
tening disdainfully  to  his  arguments,  followed  one  of  these 
persistent  interrogations  by  softly  singing  to  himself,  very 
audibly,  the  words  which  belonged  to  a  popular  song, 
"Gentle  shepherd,  tell  me  where."  The  House  took  the 
hint  with  delight,  and  the  title  of  Gentle  Shepherd  re- 
mained an  ironical  adornment  of  Grenville  for  the  rest, 
of  his  life. 

Bute's  disregard  of  public  opinion  was  contrasted  to  his 
disadvantage  with  the  conduct  of  Sir  Eobert  Walpole,  who 
bowed  to  the  demonstration  against  his  far  wiser  system 
of  excise.  Bute  forced  his  tax  forward  in  defiance  of  the 
popular  feeling,  and  then,  apparently  alarmed  by  the 
strength  of  the  spirit  he  had  himself  raised,  he  answered 
the  general  indignation  by  a  sudden  and  welcome  resigna- 
tion on  April  8,  1763.  This  was  the  end  of  Bute's  attempt 
to  be  the  recognized  head  of  a  government,  though  he  still 
hoped  and  believed  that  he  could  rule  from  behind  the 
throne  instead  of  standing  conspicuously  at  its  side.  To 
his  unpopularity  as  a  foreigner,  to  his  unpopularity  as  a 
favorite,  public  hostility  added  a  fresh,  if  a  far-fetched 
and  fantastic  reason  for  detesting  Bute.  It  was  pointed 
out  that  he  had  Stuart  blood  in  his  veins,  that  an  ancestor 
of  his  had  been  the  brother  of  a  Scottish  King.  Any  stick 
is  good  enough  to  strike  an  unpopular  statesman  with,  and 
there  were  not  wanting  people  to  assert,  and  perhaps  even 
to  believe,  that  Bute  had  entertained  insidious  schemes  for 
raising  himself  to  the  throne.  Bute  is  said  to  have  de- 
clared that  he  resigned  in  order  to  avoid  involving  the 
King  in  the  dangers  with  which  his  minister  was  threat- 
ened. If  he  did  feel  any  fears  for  the  King's  safety  he 
had  certainly  done  his  best  to  make  those  fears  reasonable. 
It  has  not  often  been  given  to  any  statesman  to  hold  the 
highest  office  in  the  state  for  so  short  a  time,  and  in  that 
time  to  accomplish  so  large  an  amount  of  harm.  And  the 
immediate  harm  of  that  year  and  a  half  was  little  as  com- 
pared with  the  harm  that  was  to  follow,  a  fatal  legacy, 

1763.  THE  RETIREMENT  OF  BUTE.  33 

from  the  principles  that  Bute  advocated  and  the  policy 
that  Bute  initiated. 

With  Bute  retired  two  of  his  followers,  Dashwood  and 
Fox.  Dashwood  went  to  the  Upper  House  as  Lord  Le  De- 
spencer;  Fox  accompanied  him  as  Lord  Holland.  The 
disappearance  of  Dashwood  from  the  Commons  was  a  mat- 
ter of  little  importance.  The  disappearance  of  Fox  marked 
the  conclusion  of  what  had  been  a  remarkable,  of  what 
might  have  been  a  great  career.  From  this  time  Fox 
ceased  to  take  any  real  part  in  public  business,  and  if  his 
presence  lent  no  lustre  to  the  Lords,  his  absence  made  the 
character  of  the  Commons  more  honorable.  Fox,  with 
all  his  faults,  and  they  were  many  and  grave,  had  in  him 
the  gifts  of  the  politician  and  the  capacity  of  the  states- 
man. Dashwood  was  a  vulgar  fool,  who,  as  Horace  Wal- 
pole  said,  with  the  familiarity  and  phrase  of  a  fishwife, 
introduced  the  humors  of  Wapping  behind  the  veil  of 
the  Treasury.  But  Fox  was  a  very  different  type  of  man. 
Had  he  been  as  keen  for  his  own  honor  as  he  was  eager 
in  the  acquisition  of  money,  had  he  been  as  successful  in 
building  up  a  record  of  great  deeds  as  he  was  successful 
in  building  up  an  enormous  fortune,  he  might  have  left 
behind  him  one  of  the  greatest  names  in  the  history  of  his 
age.  But  he  carried  with  him  to  the  Upper  House  the 
rare  abilities  which  he  had  put  to  such  unworthy  uses, 
and  he  lives  in  memory  chiefly  as  the  father  of  his  son. 
In  having  such  a  son  he  rendered  the  world  a  good  service, 
which  he  himself  labored  with  infinite  pains  to  make  into 
an  evil  service. 

A  young,  inexperienced,  and  headstrong  King  found 
himself  suddenly  the  central  figure  of  perhaps  as  singular 
a  set  of  men  as  ever  were  gathered  together  for  the  purpose 
of  directing  the  destinies  of  a  nation.  A  famous  caricature 
of  the  period  represents  the  front  of  a  marionette-show, 
through  an  aperture  of  which  the  hand  of  Bute  pulls  the 
wires  that  make  the  political  puppets  work,  while  Bute 
himself  peeps  round  the  corner  of  the  show  to  observe 
their  antics.  No  stranger  dolls  ever  danced  around  a 
royal  figure  to  the  manipulation  of  a  favorite's  fingers.   At 

VOL.   III. — 2 

34  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xliii. 

a  time  when  political  parties  as  the}^  are  now  familiar  to 
us  did  not  exist,  when  Whiggism  was  so  dominant  that 
Opposition  in  the  modern  sense  was  unknown,  when  the 
pleasures  and  the  gains  of  administration  were  almost 
entirely  reserved  for  a  privileged  caste,  and  when  self-in- 
terest was  the  rarely  disavowed  spur  of  all  individual 
action,  it  is  scarcely  surprising  to  find  that  the  vast  ma- 
jority of  the  statesmen  of  the  day  were  as  unadmirable  in 
their  private  as  they  were  unheroic  in  their  public  life. 
For  then  and  long  after,  the  political  atmosphere,  bad  at 
its  best,  was  infamous  at  its  worst,  and  by  an  unhappy 
chance  the  disposition  of  the  King  led  him  to  favor  in 
their  public  life  the  very  men  whose  private  life  would 
have  filled  him  with  loathing,  and  to  detest,  where  it  was 
impossible  to  despise,  the  men  who  came  to  the  service  of 
their  country  with  characters  that  were  clean  from  a  pri- 
vacy that  was  honorable.  Many,  if  not  most,  of  the  lead- 
ing figures  of  that  hour  would  have  been  more  appropri- 
ately situated  as  the  members  of  a  brotherhood  of  thieves 
and  the  parasites  of  a  brothel  than  as  the  holders  of  high 
office  and  the  caretakers  of  a  royal  conscience.  There  were 
men  upon  the  highway,  rogues  with  a  bit  of  crape  across 
their  foreheads  and  a  pair  of  pistols  in  their  holsters, 
haunting  the  Portsmouth  Eoad  or  Hounslow  Heath,  with 
the  words  "  Stand  and  deliver  "  ever  ready  on  their  lips, 
who  seem  relatively  to  be  men  of  honor  and  probity  com- 
pared with  a  man  like  the  first  Lord  Holland  or  like  Eigby. 
There  were  poor  slaves  of  the  stews,  wretched  servants  of 
the  bagnios,  whose  lives  seem  sweet  and  decorous  when 
compared  with  those  of  a  Sandwich  or  a  Dash  wood  or  a 
Duke  of  Grafton.  Yet  these  men,  whose  companionship 
might  be  rejected  by  Jack  Sheppard,  and  whose  example 
might  be  avoided  by  Pompey  Bum,  are  the  men  whose 
names  are  ceaselessly  prominent  in  the  early  story  of  the 
reign,  and  to  whose  power  and  influence  much  of  its  ca- 
lamities are  directly  due. 

It  is  not  easy  to  accord  a  primacy  of  dishonor  to  any  one 
of  the  many  statesm.en  whose  names  degrade  the  age.  Pos- 
sibly the  laurels  of  shame,  possibly  the  palms  of  infamy 

1V63.  THE  DUKE  OF  GRAFTON.  35 

may  be  proffered  to  Augustus  Henry  Fitzroy,  third 
Buke  of  Grafton.  When  George  the  Third  came  to  the 
throne  the  Duke  of  Grafton  was  only  twenty-five  years  old, 
and  had  been  three  years  in  the  House  of  Lords,  after  hav- 
ing passed  about  twice  as  many  months  in  the  House  of 
Commons.  Destined  to  live  for  more  than  half  a  century 
after  the  accession,  and  to  die  while  the  sovereign  had  still 
many  melancholy  years  to  live,  the  Duke  of  Grafton  en- 
jo3^ed  a  long  career,  that  was  unadorned  by  either  public 
or  private  virtue.  There  is  no  need  to  judge  Grafton  on 
the  indictment  of  the  satirist  who  in  a  later  day  made  the 
name  of  Junius  more  terrible  to  the  advisers  of  King 
George  than  ever  was  the  name  of  Pietro  Aretino  to  the 
princes  whom  he  scourged.  The  coldest  chronicle  of  the 
Duke's  careers,  the  baldest  narrative  of  his  life,  proves  him 
to  have  been  no  less  dangerous  to  the  public  weal  as  a 
statesman  than  he  was  noxious  to  human  societv  as  an 
individual.  He  had  not  even  the  redeeming  grace  that 
the  charm  of  beauty  of  person  lent  to  some  of  his  com- 
panions in  public  incompetency  and  private  profligacy. 
His  face  and  presence  were  as  unattractive  as  his  manners 
were  stiff  and  repellent.  His  grandfather,  the  first  Duke, 
was  an  illegitimate  son  of  Charles  the  Second  by  the 
Duchess  of  Cleveland,  and  the  Duke's  severest  critic  de- 
clared that  he  blended  the  characteristics  of  the  two 
Charles  Stuarts.  Sullen  and  severe  without  religion, 
and  profligate  without  gayety,  he  lived  like  Charles  the 
Second,  without  being  an  amiable  companion,  and  might 
die  as  his  father  did,  without  the  reputation  of  a  martyr. 
Grafton  did  not  die  the  death  of  his  royal  ancestor.  He 
lived  through  seventy-six  years,  of  which  less  than  half 
were  passed  in  the  fierce  light  of  a  disgraceful  notoriety, 
and  more  than  half  in  a  retirement  which  should  be  styled 
obscure  rather  than  decent.  The  only  conspicuously  cred- 
itable act  of  that  long  career  was  the  patronage  he  ex- 
tended to  the  poet  Bloomfield,  a  patronage  that  seems  to 
have  been  prompted  rather  by  the  fact  that  the  writer  was 
born  near  Grafton's  country  residence  than  by  any  intelli- 
gent appreciation  of  literature.    His  curious  want  of  taste 

36  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xliii. 

and  feeling  allowed  him  to  parade  his  mistress,  Nanc}^ 
Parsons,  in  the  presence  of  the  Queen,  at  the  Opera  House, 
and  to  marry,  when  he  married  the  second  time,  a  first 
cousin  of  the  man  with  whom  his  first  wife  had  eloped, 
John,  Earl  of  Upper  Ossory.  If  his  example  as  a  father 
was  not  admirable,  at  least  he  showed  it  to  a  numerous 
offspring,  for  by  his  two  marriages  he  was  the  parent  of 
no  fewer  than  sixteen  children. 

Perhaps  the  prize  for  sheer  political  ruffianism,  for  the 
frank  audacity  of  the  freebooter,  unshadowed  by  the  darker 
vices  of  his  better-born  associates,  may  be  awarded  to 
Eigby.  N"ot  that  Kigby  redeemed  by  many  private  virtues 
the  unblushing  effrontery  of  his  public  career.  It  was 
given  to  few  men  to  be  as  bad  as  Dashwood,  and  Rigby  was 
not  one  of  the  few.  But  his  gross  and  brutal  disregard  of 
all  decency  in  his  acts  of  public  plunder — for  even  pecu- 
lation may  be  done  with  distinction — was  accompanied  by 
a  gross  and  brutal  disregard  of  all  decency  in  his  tastes 
and  pleasures  with  his  intimate  associates.  Eichard  Eigby 
sprang  from  the  trading  class.  He  was  the  son  of  a  linen- 
draper  who  was  sufficiently  lucky  to  make  a  fortune  as 
a  factor  to  the  South  Sea  Company,  and  who  was,  in  con- 
sequence, able  to  afford  his  son  the  opportunity  of  a  good 
education,  and  to  launch  him  on  the  grand  tour  of  Europe 
with  every  aptitude  for  the  costly  vices  that  men  in  those 
daj^s  seemed  to  think  it  the  chief  object  of  travel  to  cul- 
tivate, and  with  plenty  of  money  in  his  pocket  to  gratify 
all  his  inclinations.  Eigby  did  not  take  much  advantage 
of  his  educational  opportunities.  His  Latinity  laid  him 
open  to  derision  in  the  House  of  Commons,  and  there  were 
times  when  his  spelling  would  have  reflected  little  credit 
upon  a  seamstress.  But  he  was  quite  capable  of  learning 
abroad  all  the  evil  that  the  great  school  of  evil  was  able 
to  teach  a  willing  student.  He  returned  to  England,  and 
began  his  life  there  with  three  pronounced  tastes:  for 
gambling,  for  wiue,  and  for  the  baser  uses  of  politics.  His 
ambitions  prompted  him  to  adhere  to  the  party  of  the 
Prince  of  Wales,  and  his  ready  purse  won  him  a  welcome 
among  the  courtiers  of  Leicester  House.     The  Prince  of 

1763.  RIGBY  AND   THE   DUKE   OF  BEDFORD.  3*7 

Wales  did  little  to  gratify  his  hopes,  and  Rigby  would  have 
found  it  difficult  to  escape  from  the  straits  into  which  his 
debts  had  carried  him  if  his  gift  of  pleasing  had  not  pro- 
cured for  him  a  powerful  patron.  The  Duke  of  Bedford 
had  been  attracted  by  the  remarkable  convivial  powers  of 
Eigby,  powers  remarkable  in  an  age  when  to  be  conspicu- 
ous for  conviviality  demanded  very  unusual  capacity  both 
of  head  and  of  stomach.  To  be  admired  by  Bedford  was 
in  itself  a  patent  of  dishonor,  but  it  was  a  profitable  patent 
to  Eigby.  The  Duke,  who  was  accused  at  times  of  a  shame- 
ful parsimony,  Avas  generous  to  profusion  towards  the 
bloated  buffoon  who  was  able  and  willing  to  divert  him, 
and  from  that  hour  Eigby's  pockets  never  wanted  their 
supply  of  public  money. 

There  were  few  redeeming  features  in  Eigby's  char- 
acter. It  was  his  peculiar  privilege  to  be  false  to  his  old 
friends  and  to  corrupt  his  young  ones.  In  an  age  when 
sobriety  was  scorned  or  ignored  he  had  the  honor  to  be 
famous  for  his  insobriety.  A  sycophant  to  those  who  could 
serve  him  and  a  bully  to  those  who  could  not,  Eigby  added 
the  meanness  of  the  social  parvenu  to  the  malignity  of 
the  political  bravo.  At  a  time  when  men  of  birth  and  rank 
came  to  the  House  of  Commons  in  the  negligence  of  morn- 
ing dress,  Eigby  was  conspicuous  for  the  splendor  of  his 
attire,  and  illuminated  the  green  benches  by  a  costume 
whose  glow  of  color  only  fainth^  attenuated  the  glowing 
color  of  his  face.  There  were  baser  and  darker  spirits  ready 
for  the  service  of  the  King;  there  was  no  one  more  un- 

Eigby's  patron  was  as  unadmirable  as  Eigby  himself. 
He  was  fifty  years  old  when  George  the  Third  came  to  the 
throne,  and  he  had  lived  his  half  a  century  in  the  occu- 
pation of  many  offices  and  through  many  opportunities  for 
distinction  without  distinguishing  himself.  He  had  still 
eleven  years  to  live  without  adding  anything  of  honor  or 
credit  to  his  name,  or  earning  any  other  reputation  than 
that  of  a  corrupt  politician  whose  private  life  was  passed 
chiefly  in  the  society  of  gamblers,  jockeys,  and  buffoons. 
He  had  been  Governor-General  of  Ireland,  and  had  gov- 

,38  A   HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xliii. 

erned  it  as  well  as  Verres  had  governed  Sicily.  He  had 
been  publicly  horsewhipped  by  a  county  attorney  on  the 
racecourse  at  Lichfield.  His  career,  always  unimportant, 
was  ignominious  when  it  was  not  incapable,  and  it  was 
generally  both  the  one  and  the  other. 

All  the  statesmen  of  the  day  were  not  of  the  school  of 
Grafton.  There  were  numerous  exceptions  to  the  rule  of 
Eigby.  The  Graftons  and  the  Rigbys  gain  an  unnatural 
prominence  from  the  fact  that  then  and  later  it  was  to 
such  tools  the  King  turned,  and  that  he  always  found  such 
tools  ready  to  his  hands.  There  were  many  men  who,  with- 
out any  show  of  austerity  or  any  burden  of  morality,  were 
at  least  of  a  very  different  order  from  the  creatures  whom 
the  King  did  not  indeed  delight  to  honor,  but  whom  he 
condescended  to  emi)loy.  The  Earl  of  Granville,  with  the 
weight  of  seventy  years  upon  his  shoulders,  carried  into 
active  political  life  under  his  fourth  sovereign  the  same 
qualities  both  for  good  and  evil  that  adorned  or  injured 
the  name  of  Carteret.  He  accepted  Lord  Bute's  authority, 
and  he  did  not  live  long  enough  to  witness  Bute's  fall.  He 
accorded  to  the  peace  brought  about  by  Bute  "  the  appro- 
bation of  a  dying  statesman,"  as  the  most  honorable  peace 
the  country  had  ever  seen.  He  died  in  the  January  of 
1763,  leaving  behind  him  the  memory  of  a  long  life  which 
had  always  been  lived  to  his  own  advantage  but  by  no 
means  to  the  disadvantage  of  his  country.  He  left  behind 
him  a  memory  of  rare  public  eloquence  and  graceful  pri- 
vate conversation,  of  an  elegant  scholarship  that  prompted 
him  to  the  patronage  of  scholars,  of  a  profound  belief  in 
his  own  judgment,  and  a  no  less  profound  contempt  for 
the  opinions  of  others.  His  public  life  was  honest  in  an 
epoch  when  public  dishonesty  was  habitual,  and  the  best 
thing  to  be  said  of  him  was  the  best  thing  he  said  of  him- 
self, that  when  he  governed  Ireland  he  governed  so  as  to 
please  Dean  Swift. 

At  a  time  when  the  King  was  surrounded  by  such  ad- 
visers as  we  have  seen,  the  King's  chief  servant  and  most 
loyal  subject  was  a  man  no  longer  young,  who  had  nothing 
to  do  with  the  courts  or  councils,  and  who  yet  was  of 

1763.  DR.  SAMUEL  JOHNSON.  39 

greater  service  to  the  throne  and  its  occupier  than  all  the 
House  of  Lords  and  half  the  House  of  Commons.  Long 
years  before  George  the  Third  was  born,  a  struggling,  un- 
successful schoolmaster  gave  up  a  school  that  was  well-nigh 
given  up  by  its  scholars  and  came  to  London  to  push  his 
fortune  as  a  man  of  letters.  When  George  the  Third  came 
to  the  throne  the  schoolmaster  had  not  found  fortune — 
that  he  never  found — but  he  had  found  fame,  and  the 
name  of  Samuel  Johnson  was  known  and  loved  wherever 
an  English  word  was  spoken  or  an  English  book  read.  The 
conditions  of  political  life  in  England  in  the  eighteenth 
centur}^  made  it  impossible  for  such  a  man  as  Samuel 
Johnson  ever  to  be  the  chosen  counsellor,  the  minister  of  an 
English  king.  The  field  of  active  politics  was  reserved 
for  men  of  family,  of  wealth,  or  of  the  few  whom  powerful 
patronage  served  in  lieu  of  birth  and  aided  to  the  necessary 
opulence.  Johnson  was  one  of  the  most  influential  writers 
of  his  day,  one  of  the  strongest  intellectual  forces  then  at 
work,  one  of  the  greatest  personalities  then  alive.  But  it 
would  no  more  have  occurred  to  him  to  dream  of  adminis- 
trative honors  and  a  place  in  a  Ministry  than  it  would  have 
occurred  to  George  the  Third  to  send  one  of  his  equerries 
to  the  dingy  lodgings  of  an  author  with  the  request  that 
Dr.  Johnson  would  step  round  to  St.  James's  Palace  and 
favor  his  Majesty  with  his  opinion  on  this  subject  or  on 
that.  It  is  not  certain  that  the  King  would  have  gained 
very  much  if  he  had  done  anything  so  unusual.  Dr.  John- 
son's views  were  very  much  the  King's  views,  and  we  know 
that  he  would  have  been  as  obstinate  as  the  King  in  many 
if  not  most  of  the  cases  in  which  the  King's  obstinacy  was 
very  fatal  to  himself. 

When  Queen  Anne  was  still  upon  the  throne  of  England, 
when  James  the  Second  still  lived  with  a  son  who  dreamed 
of  being  James  the  Third,  and  when  George  the  First  was 
only  Elector  of  Hanover,  people  still  attributed  to  the  sov- 
ereign certain  gifts  denied  to  subjects.  They  believed,  for 
instance,  that  the  touch  of  the  royal  fingers  could  cure 
the  malady  of  scrofula,  then  widely  known  in  consequence 
of  that  belief  as  the  King's  Evil.    In  obedience  to  that  be- 

40  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xliii. 

lief,  in  the  spring  of  1712  some  poor  folk  of  Lichfield 
travelled  to  London  with  their  infant  son,  in  the  hope  that 
Queen  Anne  would  lay  her  hand  upon  the  child  and  make 
him  whole.  There  were  da3^s  appointed  for  the  ceremony 
of  the  touch,  and  on  one  of  those  days  the  Johnsons  of 
Lichfield  carried  their  little  Samuel  into  the  royal  pres- 
ence, and  Queen  Anne  stroked  the  child  with  her  hand. 
For  more  than  seventy  years  a  dim  memory  remained  with 
Johnson  of  a  stately  lady  in  black;  for  more  than  seventy 
years  the  malady  that  her  touch  was  thought  to  heal  haunt- 
ed him.  When  the  man  who  had  been  the  sick  child  died, 
the  third  prince  of  a  foreign  house  was  seated  on  the 
throne  of  England,  and  the  third  of  the  line  owed,  uncon- 
scious of  the  debt,  no  little  of  his  security  on  his  throne 
and  no  little  of  his  popularity  with  the  mass  of  his  people 
to  the  struggling  author  who  had  received  the  benediction 
of  the  last  Stuart  sovereign  of  England. 

Samuel  Johnson  was  born  at  Lichfield,  in  Staffordshire, 
on  September  8, 1709.  His  father  was  a  bookseller,  perhaps 
too  fond  of  books  to  be  a  good  dealer  in  them.  But  his 
crowded  shelves  were  a  paradise  to  his  son  when  at  the 
age  of  sixteen  he  came  home  from  the  last  of  many  school- 
ings, each  of  which  had  taught  him  much.  For  two  years 
he  read  his  way  recklessly,  riotously,  and  joyously  through 
his  father's  migratory  library.  He  took  the  advice  of  the 
varlet  in  "The  Taming  of  the  Shrew,"  and  studied  what 
he  most  affected.  His  memory  was  as  vast  as  his  head  was 
huge  and  his  body  bulky.  He  read  what  he  liked,  and  he 
stored  his  mind  with  as  miscellaneous  a  mass  of  knowl- 
edge as  ever  was  heaped  up  within  the  pent-house  of  one 
human  skull.  That  youthful  zeal  and  fiery  heat  of  study 
remained  youthful  with  him  to  the  end  of  his  many  days; 
the  passion  for  learning  never  burned  low  in  that  mighty 
brain.  The  man  who  in  his  old  age  studied  Dutch  to  test 
the  acquiring  powers  of  his  intellect,  and  still  found  them 
freshly  tempered,  acted  in  his  ebullient  boyhood  as  if,  like 
Bacon,  he  had  taken  all  knowledge  to  be  his  province.  The 
man  who  in  his  old  age  found  an  exquisite  entertainment 
in  reading  a  Spanish  romance  of  chivalry,  in  his  eager 


boyhood  found  the  Latin  poems  of  Petrarch  sweeter  than 
apples.  The  great  Italian  who  counted  the  sonnets  to 
which  he  owes  his  immortality  but  as  the  clouds  of  a  dream, 
and  who  built  his  hopes  of  fame  upon  that  "  Africa " 
which  the  world  has  been  willing  to  forget,  found  the 
reader  he  would  have  welcomed  and  the  student  he  would 
have  cherished  in  the  ungainly  youth  who  pored  over  him 
in  a  garret.  The  boy  Johnson,  bent  over  the  great  folio, 
forgot  that  he  was  poor,  forgot  that  he  was  ill-clad,  under 
the  spell  of  the  stately  lines  that  their  poet  believed  to  be 
not  less  than  Virgilian.  He  had  set  out  on  an  errand  even 
more  trivial  than  that  of  Saul  the  son  of  Kish,  and  he 
had  found  the  illimitable  kingdom  of  dreams. 

Chance  sent  the  student  of  Petrarch  to  Pembroke  Col- 
lege, Oxford,  where  he  passed  two  years  eating  the  bitter 
bread  of  poverty  in  the  bitter  pride  of  youth.  He  was 
hungry,  he  was  ragged,  he  was  conscious  of  his  great 
knowledge  and  his  great  gifts,  and  he  saw  all  around  him 
men  in  high  places  whose  attainments  he  despised,  and 
men  seeking  the  same  goal  as  himself  whose  happy  ease 
of  circumstances  he  affected  to  disdain  and  was  compelled 
to  envy.  His  wild  soul  rose  in  rebellion  at  the  inequalities 
of  life.    He  passed  for  a  mutineer. 

His  college  days  were  bitter  and  rebellious;  days  of 
hunger  and  thirst  and  ruined  raiment.  Some  well-mean- 
ing person,  moved  to  pity  by  the  sight  of  Johnson's  shabby 
shoes,  patched  and  mended  till  they  were  past  all  whole- 
some cobbling,  placed  a  new  sound  pair  at  Johnson's  door 
in  nameless  benevolence.  Johnson  cast  them  from  him 
with  fury,  too  proud  to  be  shod  by  another  man's  bounty. 
He  drifted  through  his  few  and  gloomy  college  days  derid- 
ing and  despising  those  in  authority ;  seemingly  wasting  his 
time  and  yet  not  wasting  it ;  translating  Pope's  "  Mes- 
siah "  into  such  noble  Latin  that  Pope,  moved  by  honest 
admiration,  declared  that  future  times  would  be  unable 
to  tell  which  was  the  original  and  which  was  the  transla- 
tion. Johnson  could  be  nowhere  without  learning,  and  he 
learned  something  at  Oxford ;  but  in  any  case  his  stay  was 
short,  and  he  drifted  back  to  Lichfield,  leaving  on  the 

42  A  HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  xliii. 

banks  of  the  Isis  an  amazing  memory  of  a  sullen  savage 
creature,  brimmed  with  the  strangest  miscellaneous  learn- 
ing. In  Lichfield  his  father's  death,  following  hard  upon 
his  return  from  Oxford,  left  him  lonelier  and  poorer  than 
ever,  troubled  by  the  grim  necessity  to  be  fed,  clothed,  and 
sheltered,  and  by  the  uncertainty  how  to  set  about  it.  He 
did  set  about  it,  earnestly,  strenuouslv,  if  not  very  fruit- 
fully. "       * 

He  was  ready  to  do  anything,  to  turn  to  anything,  to 
write,  to  translate,  to  teach.  He  fell  in  love  with  an 
amazing  woman  more  than  twenty  years  his  senior,  mon- 
strously fat,  monstrously  painted,  monstrously  affected  and 
absurd;  he  fell  in  love  with  her,  and  he  married  her.  She 
had  a  little  money,  and  Johnson  set  up  an  academy  for 
the  instruction  of  youth.  But  youth  would  not  come  to 
be  instructed.  One  youth  came,  one  of  the  very  few,  a 
soldier's  son  and  a  grandson  of  a  Huguenot  refugee,  named 
David  Garrick.  The  master  and  the  pupil  became  friends, 
and  the  friendship  lasted  with  life.  Master  and  pupil  re- 
solved to  make  the  adventure  of  the  town  together.  The 
eyes  of  aspiring  provincials  turned  always  to  the  great 
city,  every  ambitious  provincial  heart  beat  with  desire  for 
the  conquest  of  London.  The  priest  of  letters  and  the 
player  of  parts,  the  real  man  and  the  shadow  of  all  men, 
packed  up  bag  and  baggage  and  came  to  London  to  very 
different  fame  and  very  different  fortune.  The  great  city 
had  one  kind  of  welcome  to  give  to  the  man  who  desired 
to  speak  truth  and  another  to  the  man  who  proposed  to 
give  pleasure.  The  chances  for  men  of  letters  and  for 
players  were  very  unlike  just  then.  The  two  strands  of  life 
ran  across  the  web  of  London,  the  strand  of  Johnson  iron- 
gray,  the  strand  of  Garrick  gleaming  gold.  Through  long 
years  Johnson  hid  in  dingy  courts  and  alleys,  ill-clothed, 
ill-fed,  an  uncouth  Apollo  in  the  service  of  Admetus  Cave 
and  his  kind,  while  the  marvellous  actor  was  climbing 
daily  higher  and  higher  on  the  ladder  of  an  actor's  fame, 
the  friend  of  the  wealthy,  the  favored  of  the  great,  the 
admired,  the  applauded,  the  well-beloved.  Garrick  de- 
served his  fame  and  his  fortune,  his  splendid  successes  and 

1737.  JOHNSON  AND   HIS  WORK.  43 

his  shining  rewards;  but  the  grand,  rough  writer  of  books 
did  not  deserve  his  buffets  and  mishaps,  his  ferocious 
hungers,  his  acquaintanceship  with  sponging-houses,  and 
all  the  catalogue  of  his  London  agonies.  His  struggle 
for  life  was  a  Titan's  struggle,  and  it  was  never  either 
selfish  or  ignoble.  He  wanted  to  live  and  be  heard  because 
he  knew  that  he  had  something  to  say  that  was  worth 
hearing.  He  needed  to  live  for  the  sake  of  his  ardent 
squalid  affections,  for  the  sake  of  the  people  who  were 
always  dependent  upon  his  meagre  bounty,  for  the  sake  of 
the  wife  he  loved  so  deeply,  mourned  so  truly  when  she 
died,  and  remembered  with  such  tender  loyalty  so  long  as 
life  was  left  to  him.  Miserably  poor  himself,  he  always 
had  about  him  people  more  miserable  and  more  poor,  who 
looked  to  him  for  the  very  bread  and  water  of  their  afflic- 
tion, dependents  whom  he  tended  not  merely  generously, 
but,  what  was  better  still,  cheerfully.  Under  conditions 
of  existence  that  would  have  seemed  crushing  to  men  of 
letters  with  a  tithe  of  Johnson's  greatness  of  soul,  John- 
son fought  his  way  inch  by  inch  in  the  terrible  career  of 
the  man  who  lived  by  his  pen,  and  by  his  pen  alone.  He 
wrote  anything  and  everything  so  long  as  it  was  honorable 
to  write  and  promised  to  make  the  world  better.  But  it  was 
not  what  Johnson  wrote  so  much  as  what  Johnson  did 
that  commanded  his  age  and  commands  posterity.  In  the 
truest  sense  of  the  word,  he  lived  beautifull)^  "  Easselas  " 
and  "  The  Idler,"  "  London  "  and  "  The  Vanity  of  Human 
Wishes,"  "  The  Eambler  "  and  the  "  Sessions  of  Lilliput," 
and  the  ''  Lives  of  the  Poets,"  and  even  the  famous  "  Dic- 
tionary," only  claim  remembrance  because  they  were  done 
by  a  man  who  would  be  as  interesting  a  study  and  as  en- 
nobling an  example  if  he  had  never  written  a  line  of  the 
works  that  bear  his  signature  in  every  sentence  of  their 
solemn,  even  their  portentous  majesty.  Johnson  had  the 
kindest  heart  wrapped  in  a  rugged  hide.  One  of  the 
noblest  of  the  many  noble  stories  about  him  relates  how  he 
and  a  friend,  whose  name  of  Burke  was  not  then  famous, 
found  a  poor  woman  of  the  streets  houseless,  hungry,  and 
exhausted  in  the  streets.    Burke  had  a  room  which  he  could 

44  A  HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xliii. 

offer  the  poor  creature  for  a  night's  shelter;  but  Burke 
could  not  get  the  woman  there.  Johnson  had  no  room — 
his  dependents  swarmed  over  every  available  space  at  his 
command — but  he  had  the  strength  of  a  giant,  and  he 
used  it  as  a  giant  should,  in  carrying  the  poor  wretch  in 
his  arms  to  the  roof  that  Burke  could  offer  her.  Long 
years  later,  another  man  of  letters,  hungry,  homeless,  and 
friendless,  sick  almost  unto  death,  found  a  kind  friend 
and  gentle  nurse  in  a  woman  of  the  streets.  In  succoring 
De  Quincey  we  may  well  think  that  Anne  was  repaying 
something  of  the  debt  owed  by  one  of  her  unhappy  class  to 
two  of  the  2:lories  of  literature  and  of  humanitv. 

Slowly  and  surely  Johnson's  fame  spread.  The  "  Dic- 
tionary," massive  fruit  of  many  vigils,  reward  of  many 
supplications,  made  him  illustrious.  It  might  have  been 
dedicated  to  Chesterfield,  if  Chesterfield  had  shown  to  the 
struggling  author  the  courtesy  he  was  eager  to  extend  to 
the  established  writer.  Chesterfield  need  not  be  blamed 
if  he  was  reluctant  to  welcome  a  queer  ungainly  creature 
whose  manners  were  appalling,  and  of  whose  genius  no  one 
save  himself  was  assured.  But  he  was  to  be  blamed,  and 
he  deserved  the  stern  punishment  he  received  in  Johnson's 
stiuging  letter  of  repudiation,  for  attempting,  when  John- 
son was  distinguished  and  beyond  his  power  to  help,  to  win 
the  great  honor  of  a  dedication  by  a  proffer  of  friendship 
that  came  too  late.  Johnson  needed  no  Chesterfield  now. 
London  had  learned  to  reverence  him,  had  learned  to  love 
him.  His  friends  were  the  best  Englishmen  alive ;  the  club 
which  Johnson  established  bore  on  its  roll  the  most  illus- 
trious names  in  the  country;  at  the  home  of  the  Thrales 
Johnson  tasted  and  appreciated  all  that  was  best  in  the 
home  life  of  the  time.  He  had  a  devoted  friend  in  the 
person  of  a  fussy,  fantastic,  opinionated,  conceited  little 
Scotch  gentleman,  Mr.  James  Boswell  of  Auchinleck,  who 
clung  to  his  side,  treasured  his  utterances,  cherished  his 
sayings,  and  made  himself  immortal  in  immortalizing  his 
hero.  It  is  good  to  remember  that  when  George  the  Third 
came  to  the  throne  a  man  like  Johnson  was  alive.  It  is 
not  so  good  to  remember  how  seldom  he  found  himself 


face  to  face  with  the  King,  whom  he  might  have  aided 
with  his  wisdom,  his  counsel,  and  his  friendship. 

Johnson's  presence  adorned  and  honored  f  our-and-twenty 
years  of  a  reign  that  was  to  last  for  sixty  years.  He  was 
the  friend  or  the  enemy  of  every  man  worthy  to  arouse 
any  strong  emotion  of  love  or  scorn  in  a  strong  spirit.  He 
had  the  admiration  of  all  whose  admiration  was  worth  the 
having.  The  central  figure  of  the  literary  London  of  his 
lifetime,  he  exercised  something  of  the  same  social  and 
intellectual  influence  over  all  Londoners  that  Socrates 
exercised  over  all  Athenians.  The  affection  he  inspired 
survived  him,  and  widens  with  the  generations.  In  the 
hundred  years  and  more  that  have  passed  since  Johnson's 
death,  his  memory  has  grown  greener.  The  symbol  of  his 
life  and  of  its  lesson  is  to  be  found  in  what  Hawthorne 
beautifully  calls  the  sad  and  lovely  legend  of  the  man 
Johnson's  public  penance  in  the  rain,  amid  the  jeering 
crowd,  to  expiate  the  offence  of  the  cliild  against  its  father. 
Johnson  was  the  very  human  apostle  of  a  divine  righteous- 

46  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xliv. 


THE    "  NORTH    BRITON/' 

One  of  the  most  beautiful  places  on  one  of  the  most 
beautiful  rivers  in  the  world  is  Medmenham  on  the 
Thames,  hard  by  Marlow.  In  the  awakening  of  spring, 
in  the  tranquillity  of  summer,  or  the  rich  decline  of 
August,  the  changing  charm  of  the  spot  appeals  with  the 
special  insistence  that  association  lends  to  nature.  ]\Ied- 
menham  is  a  haunted  place.  Those  green  fields  and 
smiling  gardens  have  been  the  scenes  of  the  strangest 
id3ds;  those  shining  waters  have  mirrored  the  fairest  of 
frail  faces;  those  woods  have  echoed  to  the  names  of  the 
light  nymphs  of  town  and  the  laughter  of  modish  satyrs. 
It  was  once  very  lonely  in  its  loveliness,  a  ground  remote, 
where  men  could  do  and  did  do  as  they  pleased  unheeded 
and  unobserved.  Where  now  from  April  to  October  a 
thousand  pleasure-boats  pass  by,  where  a  thousand  pleas- 
ure-seekers land  and  linger,  a  century  and  a  half  ago  the 
spirit  of  solitude  brooded,  and  those  who  came  there  came  to 
a  calm  as  unvexed  and  as  enchanting  as  the  calm  of  Aval- 
Ion.  They  made  strange  uses  of  their  exquisite  opportunity. 
They  profaned  the  groves  whose  very  winds  breathed 
peace;  they  polluted  the  stream  that  a  poet  would  have 
found  sacred.  The  remains  are  there  of  a  Cistercian  abbe3^ 
the  ruins  of  a  ruin,  twice  fallen  into  disuse  and  decav. 
It  was  a  ruin  in  the  eighteenth  century  when  a  member  of 
Parliament,  who  was  also  a  baronet  and  a  Chancellor  of  the 
Exchequer,  took  it  into  his  evil  head  to  repair  it.  Under 
the  care  of  Sir  Francis  Dashwood  it  was  restored  for  a 
new  and  altered  life.  The  abbey  rose  again,  and  once 
asrain  was  associated  with  a  brotherhood  of  monks.  But 
where  the  quiet  Cistercians  had  lived  and  prayed  a  new 

1763.  JOHN   WILKES.  47 

brotherhood  of  St.  Francis,  named  after  their  founder, 
devoted  themselves  to  all  manner  of  blasphemy,  to  all 
manner  of  offence.  In  a  spot  whose  beauty  might  well 
be  expected  to  have  only  a  softening  influence,  whose 
memories  might  at  least  be  found  exalting,  a  handful  of 
disreputable  men  gathered  together  to  degrade  the  place, 
and,  as  far  as  that  was  possible,  themselves,  with  the 
beastly  pleasures  and  beastly  humors  of  the  ingrained 

The  Hell-Fire  Club  was  dead  and  gone,  but  the  spirit 
of  the  Hell-Fire  Club  was  alive  and  active.  The  monks 
of  St.  Francis  were  worthy  pupils  of  the  principles  of  the 
Duke  of  Wharton.  They  sought  to  make  their  profligacy, 
in  which  they  strove  to  be  unrivalled,  piquant  by  a  parody 
of  the  religious  ceremonies  of  the  Christian  faith.  The 
energy  and  the  earnestness  which  other  men  devote  to  the 
advancement  of  some  public  cause,  to  the  furtherance  of 
their  country^s  welfare,  or  even  to  the  gratification  of  their 
own  ambitions,  these  men  devoted  to  a  passion  for  being 
pre-eminent  in  sin,  conspicuous  in  infamy.  If  they  suc- 
ceeded in  nothing  else,  they  succeeded  in  making  their 
names  notorious  and  shameful,  they  succeeded  in  stirring 
the  envy  of  men  no  better  than  they,  but  less  enabled  by 
wealth  or  position  to  gratify  their  passions.  They  suc- 
ceeded in  arousing  the  loathing  not  merely  of  honest  men. 
but  even  of  the  knaves  and  fools  whose  rascality  was  not 
so  rotten  and  whose  folly  was  not  so  foul  as  that  of  the 
noblemen  and  statesmen  who  rioted  within  the  walls  of 

It  is  curious  and  melancholy  to  record  that  the  leading 
spirits  of  this  abominable  brotherhood  were  legislators  in 
both  Houses  of  Parliament,  men  of  old  family,  great  posi- 
tion, large  means,  men  holding  high  public  office,  members 
of  the  Government.  Their  follies  and  their  sins  would 
scarcely  be  worth  remembering  to-day  were  it  not  for  the 
chance  that  gave  them  for  companion  and  ally  one  of  the 
most  remarkable  men  of  his  age,  a  man  whose  abilities 
were  in  striking  contrast  to  those  of  his  associates,  a  man 
who  might  almost  be  called  a  man  of  genius. 

48  A  HISTOKY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xliv. 

John  Wilkes  was  the  son  of  a  rich  distiller  and  of  a 
Presbyterian  mother.  He  had  received  a  good  education 
in  England  and  at  Leyden,  where  so  many  of  the  English- 
men of  that  day  went  as  students.  He  had  travelled  much 
in  his  youth  upon  the  Continent.  On  his  return  he  was 
induced  by  his  father,  he  being  then  only  two-and-twenty, 
to  marry  a  lady  who  was  exceedingly  rich,  but  who  had 
the  misfortune  to  be  at  least  ten  years  older  than  her  hus- 
band. It  is  scarcely  surprising  to  find  that  the  marriage 
did  not  turn  out  happily.  Wilkes  was  young,  fresh  from 
the  bright  Continental  life,  delighting  in  pleasure  and  the 
society  of  those  who  pursued  pleasure.  How  far  a  happier 
marriage  might  have  influenced  him  for  good  it  were  idle 
to  consider.  His  marriage  he  regarded  always  and  spoke 
of  always  as  a  sacrifice  to  Plutus,  not  to  Venus,  and  he 
certainly  was  at  no  pains  to  make  it  any  more  of  a  sacrifice 
than  he  could  help.  His  wild  tastes,  his  wild  companions 
soon  sickened  and  horrified  Mrs.  Wilkes.  The  ill-matched 
pair  separated,  and  remained  separate  for  the  rest  of  their 

Wilkes  was  delighted  to  be  free.  He  was  at  liberty  to 
squander  his  money  unquestioned  and  unchallenged  in 
the  society  of  as  pretty  a  gang  of  scoundrels  as  even  the 
age  could  produce.  No  meaner,  more  malignant,  or  more 
repulsive  figure  darkens  the  record  of  the  last  century 
than  that  of  Lord  Sandwich.  Sir  Francis  Dashwood  ran 
him  close  in  infamy.  Mr.  Thomas  Potter  was  the  peer 
of  either  in  beastliness.  All  three  were  members  of  Par- 
liament; all  three  were  partially  responsible  for  the  legis- 
lation of  the  country;  two  were  especially  so  responsible. 
All  three  were  bound  at  least  to  a  decorous  acknowledgmcDt 
of  the  observances  of  the  Church;  one  was  in  especial  so 
bound.  Sir  Francis  Dashwood  and  Lord  Sandwich  were, 
then  or  thereafter,  members  of  the  Government.  Sir 
Francis  Dashwood  was  remarkable  as  having  been  the 
worst  and  stupidest  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer  known 
to  history.  Lord  Sandwich  was  made  First  Lord  of  the 
Admiraltv.  As  for  the  third  in  this  triumvirate  of  black- 
guards^  Mr.  Thomas  Potter  was  a  son  of  the  Archbishop 


of  Canterbury,  and  he  was  soon  afterwards  made  Vice- 
Treasurer  for  Ireland.  Into  such  honorable  hands  were 
the  duties  of  government  delivered  less  than  a  century 
and  a  half  ago. 

In  this  society  Wilkes  was  made  very  welcome.  He 
brought  to  their  filthy  fooleries  something  resembling  wit ; 
he  brought  an  intelligence  as  far  above  that  of  his  com- 
panions as  that  of  the  monkey  is  above  that  of  the  rabbit. 
While  he  had  money  he  spent  it  as  royally  as  the  rest.  If 
he  rivalled  them  in  their  profligacy,  he  outstripped  them 
by  his  intellect.  They  were  conspicuous  only  by  their 
vices;  he  would  have  been  a  remarkable  man  even  if  it 
had  pleased  Providence  to  make  him  virtuous.  It  had 
not  pleased  Providence  to  make  him  attractive  to  look 
upon.  There  were  few  uglier  men  of  his  day ;  few  who  lost 
less  by  their  ugliness.  But  though  we  are  well  assured 
that  his  appearance  was  repulsive,  he  redeemed  his  hideous- 
ness  by  his  ready  tongue  and  witty  mind.  He  said  of  him- 
self, truly  enough,  that  he  only  wanted  half  an  hour's 
start  to  make  him  even  with  the  handsomest  man  in  Eng- 

Wilkes  flung  his  money  and  his  wife's  money  about  reck- 
lessly, while  he  played  his  part  as  a  country  gentleman 
upon  the  estate  at  Aylesbury  which  his  unhappy  wife  had 
resigned  to  him  when  they  separated.  Of  this  money  some 
eight  thousand  pounds  went  in  an  unsuccessful  attempt 
to  bribe  his  way  into  the  representation  of  Berwick,  and 
seven  thousand  more  went  in  the  successful  attempt  to  buy 
himself  the  representation  of  Aylesbury.  It  is  probable 
that  he  hoped  to  advance  his  failing  fortunes  in  Parlia- 
ment. His  fortunes  were  failing,  failing  fast.  He  made 
an  ignoble  attempt  to  bully  his  wife  out  of  the  miserable 
income  of  two  hundred  a  year  which  was  all  that  she  had 
paved  out  of  her  wealth,  but  the  attempt  was  happily  de- 
feated by  that  Court  of  King's  Bench  against  which  Wilkes 
was  to  be  pitted  later  in  more  honorable  hostility. 

It  was  perhaps  impossible  that  Wilkes  could  long  re- 
main content  with  the  companionship  of  men  like  Dash- 
wood^  and  Sandwich;  it  was  certainly  impossible  that  men 

50  A   HISTORY  OF   THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xliv. 

like   Dashwood   and   like   Sandwich   could   for   long   feel 
comfortable  in  the  companionship  of  a  man  so  infinitely 
their  superior  in  wit,  intelligence,  and  taste.     The  pane- 
gyrists of  Sandwich — for  even   Sandwich  had  his  pane- 
gyrists in  an  age  when  wealth  and  rank  commanded  com- 
pliment— found  the  courage  to  applaud   Sandwich  as  a 
scholar  and  an  antiquarian,  on  the  strength  of  an  account 
of  some  travels  in  the  Mediterranean,  which  the  world 
has  long  since  willingly  let  die.     But  the  few  weeks  or 
months  of  foreign  travel  that  permitted  Sandwich  to  pose 
as  a  connoisseur  when  he  was  not  practising  as  a  profli- 
gate could  not  inspire  him  with  the  humor  or  the  appre- 
ciation of  Wilkes,  and  a  friendship  only  cemented  by  a 
common  taste  for  common  vices  soon  fell  asunder.    There 
is  a  story  to  the  effect  that  the  quarrel  began  with  a  practi- 
cal Joke  which  Wilkes  played  off  on  Sandwich  at  Medmen- 
ham.     Sandwich,  in  some  drunken  orgy,  was  induced  to 
invoke  the  devil,  whereupon  Wilkes  let  loose  a  monkey, 
that  had  been  kept  concealed  in  a  box,  and  drove  Sand- 
wich into  a  paroxysm  of  fear  in  the  belief  that  his  impious 
supplication  had  been  answered.     For  whatever   reason, 
Wilkes  and  Sandwich  ceased  to  be  friends,  to  Wilkes's  cost 
at  first,  and  to  Sandwich's  after.     Sandwich  owes  his  un- 
enviable place  in  history  to  his  association  with  Wilkes  in 
the  first  place,  and  in  the  next  to  his  alliance  with  the 
beautiful,  unhappy  Miss  Ray,  who  was  murdered  by  her 
melancholy  lover,  the  Eev.  Mr,  Hickman,  at  the  door  of 
Covent  Garden  Theatre.    The  fate  of  his  mistress  and  his 
treason  to  his  friend  have  preserved  the  name  of  Sandwich 
from  the  forgetfulness  it  deserved. 

In  those  days  Wilkes  made  no  very  remarkable  figure  in 
Parliament.  It  was  outside  the  walls  of  Westminster  that 
he  first  made  a  reputation  as  a  public  man.  In  the  un- 
popularity of  Bute,  Wilkes  found  opportunity  for  his  own 
popularity.  The  royal  peace  policy  was  very  unwelcome, 
and  agitated  the  feeling  of  the  country  profoundly.  Po- 
litical controversy  ran  as  high  in  the  humblest  cross- 
channels  as  in  the  main  stream  of  courtly  and  political 
life.    At  that  time,  we  are  told  by  a  contemporary  letter- 


writer,  the  mason  would  pause  in  his  task  to  discuss  the 
progress  of  the  peace,  and  the  carpenter  would  neglect  his 
work  to  talk  of  the  Princess  Dowager,  of  Lord  Treasurers 
and  Secretaries  of  State.  To  win  support  and  sympathy 
from  such  keen  observers,  the  Ministry  turned  again  for 
aid  to  the  public  press  that  had  been  so  long  neglected  ])y 
the  Whigs.  Smollett,  the  remembered  novelist.  Murphy, 
the  forgotten  dramatist,  were  commissioned  to  champion 
the  cause  of  the  Government  in  the  two  papers,  the  Briton 
and  the  Auditor. 

The  Government  already  had  a  severe  journalistic  critic 
in  the  Monitor,  a  newspaper  edited  by  John  Entinck, 
which  had  been  started  in  1755.  The  Monitor  was  not  at 
all  like  a  modern  newspaper.  It  was  really  little  more 
than  a  weekly  pamphlet,  a  folio  of  six  pages  published 
every  Saturda}^,  and  containing  an  essay  upon  the  politi- 
cal situation  of  the  hour.  Its  hostility  to  Bute  goaded 
the  minister  into  the  production  of  the  Briton,  which  was 
afterwards  supplemented  by  the  creation  of  the  Auditor 
when  it  was  found  that  Smollett  had  called  up  against 
the  Ministry  a  more  terrible  antagonist  than  the  Monitor. 
For  the  Briton  only  lives  in  the  memories  of  men  because 
it  called  into  existence  the  North  Briton. 

Wilkes  had  entered  Parliament  as  the  impassioned  fol- 
lower of  Pitt.  He  made  manv  confessions  of  his  desire 
to  serve  his  country,  professions  which  may  be  taken  as 
sincere  enough.  But  he  was  also  anxious  to  serve  himself 
and  to  mend  his  fortunes,  and  he  did  not  find  in  Parlia- 
mentary life  the  advancement  for  which  he  hoped.  Twice 
he  sought  for  high  position  under  the  Crown,  and  twice 
he  was  unsuccessful.  He  wished  to  be  made  ambassador 
to  Constantinople,  where  he  would  have  found  much  that 
was  congenial  to  him,  and  his  wish  was  not  granted.  He 
wished  to  be  made  Governor-General  of  the  newly  con- 
quered Quebec,  and  again  his  desires  were  unheeded. 
Wilkes  believed  that  Bute  was  the  cause  of  his  double  dis- 
appointment. He  became  convinced  that  while  the  favors 
of  the  State  lay  in  Bute's  hands  they  would  only  be  given 
to  Tories,  and  more  especially  to  Tories  who  were  also 

52  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlit. 

Scotchmen.  If  Bute  could  have  known,  it  would  have 
been  a  happy  hour  for  him  which  had  seen  Wilkes  start- 
ing for  the  Golden  Horn  or  sailing  for  the  St.  Lawrence. 
But  Bute  was  a  foolish  man,  and  he  did  his  most  foolish 
deed  when  he  made  Wilkes  his  enemy. 

The  appearance  of  the  North  Briton  was  an  event  in 
the  history  of  journalism  as  well  as  in  the  political  history 
of  the  country.  It  met  the  heavy-handed  violence  of  the 
Briton  with  a  frank  ferocity  which  was  overpowering.  It 
professed  to  fight  on  the  same  side  as  the  Monitor,  but  it 
surpassed  Entinck's  paper  as  much  in  virulence  as  in 
ability.  Under  the  whimsical  pretence  of  being  a  North 
Briton,  Wilkes  assailed  the  Scotch  party  in  the  State  with 
unflagging  satire  and  unswerving  severity.  In  the  satire 
and  the  severity  he  had  an  able  henchman  in  Charles 

Those  who  are  inclined  to  condemn  Wilkes  because  for  a 
season  he  found  entertainment  in  the  society  of  a  Sand- 
wich, a  Dashwood,  and  a  Potter,  must  temper  their  judg- 
ment by  remembering  the  affection  that  Wilkes  was  able 
to  inspire  in  the  heart  of  Churchill.  While  the  scoun- 
drels of  Medmenham  were  ready  to  betray  their  old  asso- 
ciate, and,  with  no  touch  of  the  honor  proverbially  at- 
tributed to  thieves,  to  drive  him  into  disgrace,  to  exile,  and 
if  possible  to  death,  the  loyal  friendship  of  the  poet  was 
given  to  Wilkes  without  reserve.  Churchill  was  not  a 
man  of  irreproachable  character,  of  unimpeachable  moral- 
ity, or  of  unswerving  austerity.  But  he  was  as  different 
from  the  Sandwiches  and  the  Dashwoods  as  dawn  is  dif- 
ferent from  dusk,  and  in  enumerating  all  of  the  many 
arguments  that  are  to  be  accumulated  in  defence  of  Wilkes, 
not  the  least  weighty  arguments  are  that  while  on  the  one 
hand  he  earned  the  hatred  of  Sandwich  and  of  Dashwood, 
on  the  other  hand  he  earned  the  love  of  Charles  Churchill. 

Churchill's  name  and  fame  have  suffered  of  late  years. 
Since  Byron  stood  by  the  neglected  grave  and  mused  on 
him  who  blazed,  the  comet  of  a  season,  the  genius  of 
Churchill  has  been  more  and  more  disregarded.  But  the 
Georgian  epoch,  so  rich  in  its  many  and  contrasting  types 

1731-64.  THE   POET   CHURCHILL.  53 

of  men  of  letters,  produced  few  men  more  remarkable  in 
themselves,  if  not  in  their  works,  than  Charles  Churchill. 
The  cleric  who  first  became  famous  for  most  unclerical 
assaults  upon  the  stage,  the  satirist  who  could  be  the  most 
devoted  friend,  the  seducer  who  could  be  so  loyal  to  his 
victim,  the  spendthrift  who  could  be  generous,  the  cynic 
who  could  feel  and  obey  the  principles  of  the  purest 
patriotism,  was  one  of  those  strangely  compounded  natures 
in  which  each  vice  was  as  it  were  effaced  or  neutralized 
by  some  compensating  virtue.  It  may  be  fairly  urged 
that  while  Churchill's  virtues  were  his  own,  his  vices  were 
in  large  part  the  fault  of  his  unhappy  destiny.  The  West- 
minster boy  who  learned  Latin  under  Vincent  Bourne, 
and  who  was  a  schoolfellow  of  Warren  Hastings,  of  Cow- 
per,  and  of  Colman,  might  possibly  have  made  a  good 
scholar,  but  was  certainly  not  of  the  stuff  of  which  good 
clergymen  are  made.  An  early  marriage,  an  unhappy  mar- 
riage contracted  in  the  Eules  of  the  Fleet,  had  weighed 
down  his  life  with  encumbrances  almost  before  he  had 
begun  to  live.  Compelled  to  support  an  unsuitable  wife 
and  an  increasing  family,  Churchill  followed  his  father's 
example  and  his  father's  injudicious  counsel  and  took  Holy 
Orders.  Men  took  Orders  in  those  days  with  a  light  heart. 
It  afforded  the  needy  a  livelihood,  precarious  indeed  for 
the  most  part,  but  still  preferable  to  famine.  Men  took 
Orders  with  no  thought  of  the  sanctity  of  their  calling, 
of  the  solemn  service  it  exacted,  of  its  awful  duties  and 
its  inexorable  demands.  They  wished  merely  to  keep 
famine  from  the  door,  to  have  food  and  fire  and  shelter, 
and  they  took  Orders  as  under  other  conditions  they  would 
have  taken  the  King's  shilling,  with  no  more  feeling  of 
reverence  for  the  black  cassock  than  for  the  scarlet  coat. 
Churchill  was  not  the  man  to  wear  the  clergyman's  gown 
with  dignity,  or  to  find  in  the  gravity  of  his  office  consola- 
tion for  the  penury  that  it  entailed.  The  Establishment 
offered  meagre  advantages  to  an  extravagant  man  with  an 
extravagant  wife.  He  drifted  deeper  and  deeper  into 
debt.  He  became  as  a  wandering  star,  reserved  for  the 
blackness  of  bailiffs  and  the  darkness  of  duns.     But  the 

54  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xliv. 

rare  quality  he  had  in  him  of  giving  a  true  friendship  to 
his  friend  won  a  like  quality  from  other  men.  Dr.  Lloyd, 
under-master  of  his  old  school  of  Westminster,  came  to 
his  aid,  helj^ed  him  in  his  need,  and  secured  the  patience 
of  his  creditors.  He  was  no  longer  harassed,  but  he  was 
still  poor,  and  the  spur  of  poverty  drove  him  to  tempt 
his  fortune  in  letters.  Like  so  many  a  literary  adventurer 
of  the  eighteenth  century,  he  saw  in  the  writing  of  verse 
the  sure  way  to  success.  Like  so  many  a  literary  adventurer 
of  the  century,  he  carried  his  first  efforts  unsuccessfully 
from  bookseller  to  bookseller.  The  impulses  of  his  wit 
were  satirical;  he  was  not  dismayed  by  failure;  the  stage 
had  entertained  him  and  irritated  him,  and  he  made  the 
stage  the  subject  of  his  first  triumph.  "  The  Rosciad " 
was  in  every  sense  a  triumph.  Its  stings  galled  the  vanity 
of  the  players  to  frenzy.  At  all  times  a  susceptible  brother- 
hood, their  susceptibilities  were  sharply  stirred  by 
Churchill's  corrosive  lines  and  acidulated  epigrams.  Their 
indignation  finding  vent  in  hot  recrimination  and  virulent 
lampoon  only  served  to  make  the  poem  and  its  author 
better  known  to  the  public.  Churchill  replied  to  the  worst 
of  his  assailants  in  "  The  Apology,"  which  rivalled  the 
success  of  "  The  Eosciad,"  and  gained  for  the  satirist  the 
friendship  of  Garrick,  who  had  affected  to  disdain  the 
praises  of  "  The  Rosciad,''  but  who  now  recognized  in 
time  the  power  of  the  satirist  and  the  value  of  his  approval. 
Churchill  himself  was  delighted  with  his  good  fortune. 
He  was  the  talk  of  the  town;  he  had  plenty  of  money  in 
his  pocket;  he  was  separated  from  his  wife,  freed  from 
his  uncongenial  profession,  and  he  could  exchange  the 
solemn  black  of  the  cleric  for  a  blue  coat  with  brass  but- 
tons and  a  gold-laced  hat. 

Lest  the  actors  whom  he  had  lashed  should  resort  to 
violence  for  revenge,  he  carried  with  ostentation  a  sturdy 
cudgel.  It  was  a  formidable  weapon  in  hands  like 
Churchill's,  and  Churchill  was  not  molested.  For  Churchill 
was  a  man  of  great  physical  strength.  He  tells  the  world 
in  the  portrait  he  painted  of  himself  of  the  vastness  of 
his  bones,  of  the  strength  of  his  muscles,  of  his  arms  like 


two  twin  oaks^  of  his  legs  fashioned  as  if  to  bear  the  weight 
of  the  Mansion  House,  of  his  massive  body  surmounted 
by  the  massive  face,  broader  than  it  was  long.  The  ugly 
face  was  chieflv  remarkable,  accordins:  to  the  confession 
of  its  owner,  for  its  expression  of  contentment,  though 
the  observant  might  discern  "  sense  lowering  in  the  pent- 
house of  his  eye.''  l^ike  most  giants,  he  overtaxed  his 
strength,  both  mentally  and  physically.  Whatever  he  did 
he  did  with  all  his  mighty  energy.  He  loved,  hated,  work- 
ed, played,  at  white  heat  as  it  were,  and  withered  up  his 
forces  with  the  flame  they  fed.  In  nothing  did  his  zeal 
consume  itself  more  hotly  than  in  his  devotion  to  Wilkes. 

Churchill  met  Wilkes  in  1762,  and  seems  to  have  fallen 
instantly  under  the  spell  which  Wilkes  found  it  so  easy  to 
exercise  upon  all  who  came  into  close  contact  with  him. 
Undoubtedly  Churchill's  friendship  was  very  valuable  to 
Wilkes.  If  Churchill  loved  best  to  express  his  satire  in 
verse,  he  could  write  strongly  and  fiercely  in  prose,  and 
the  North  Briton  owed  to  his  pen  some  of  its  most  brilliant 
and  some  of  its  bitterest  pages.  In  the  North  Briton 
Wilkes  and  Churchill  laid  about  them  lustily,  striking  at 
whatever  heads  they  pleased,  holding  their  hands  for  no 
fame,  no  dignity,  no  influence.  It  was  wholly  without  fear 
and  wholly  without  favor.  If  it  assailed  Bute  again  and 
again  with  an  unflagging  zeal,  it  was  no  less  ready  to 
challenge  to  an  issue  the  greatest  man  who  ever  accepted 
a  service  from  Bute,  and  to  remind  Dr.  Johnson,  who  had 
received  a  pension  from  the  King's  favorite,  of  his  own 
definition  of  a  pension  and  of  a  pensioner. 

Before  the  fury  and  the  popularity  of  the  North  Briton 
both  the  Auditor  and  the  Briton  had  to  strike  their  colors. 
The  Auditor  came  to  its  inglorious  end  on  February  8, 

1763.  The  Briton  died  on  the  12th  of  the  same  month, 
leaving  the  North  Briton  master  of  the  field.  Week  after 
week  the  North  Briton  grew  more  severe  in  its  strictures 
upon  the  Government,  strictures  that  scorned  the  veil  of 
hint  and  innuendo  that  had  hitherto  prevailed  in  these 
pamphleteering  wars.  Even  the  Monitor  had  always  al- 
luded to  the  statesmen  whom  it  assailed  by  initial  letters. 

56  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  xliv. 

The  North  Briton  called  them  by  their  names  in  all  the 
plainness  of  full  print,  the  name  of  the  sovereign  not 
being  excepted  from  this  courageous  rule.  But  the  fame 
of  the  North  Briton  only  came  to  its  full  with  the  number 




When  Bute  disappeared  from  the  public  leadership  of 
his  party,  Wilkes,  from  professedly  patriotic  motives,  de- 
layed the  publication  of  the  current  number  of  the  North 
Briton,  to  see  if  the  policy  which  Bute  had  inspired  still 
guided  the  actions  of  the  gentle  shepherd,  George  Gren- 
ville.  Wilkes  wished  to  know  if  the  influence  of  the 
Scottish  minister  was  at  an  end,  or  if  he  still  governed 
through  those  wretched  tools  Vv^ho  had  supported  the  most 
odious  of  his  measures,  the  ignominious  peace,  and  the 
wicked  extension  of  the  arbitrary  mode  of  excise.  He  de- 
clared himself  that  if  Bute  only  intended  to  retire  into 
that  situation  which  he  held  before  he  took  the  seals,  a 
situation  in  which  he  dictated  to  every  part  of  the  King's 
administration,  Wilkes  was  as  ready  to  combat  the  new 
Administration  as  he  had  been  steady  in  his  opposition  to 
a  single,  insolent,  incapable,  despotic  minister. 

Any  hope  that  Wilkes  may  have  entertained  of  a  refor- 
mation of  the  Ministry  was  dispelled  by  a  talk  which  he 
had  with  Temple  and  Pitt  at  Temple's  house,  where 
Temple  showed  him  an  early  copy  of  the  King's  speech. 
Wilkes,  Pitt,  and  Temple  were  entirely  in  agreement  as 
to  the  fatal  defects  of  the  speech,  and  Wilkes  went  prompt- 
ly home  and  wrote  the  article  which  made  the  forty-fifth 
number  of  the  North  Briton  famous. 

In  itself  the  number  forty-five  was  no  stronger  in  its 
utterances  than  many  of  the  preceding  numbers.  If  its 
tone  be  compared  with  the  tone  of  journalistic  criticism  of 
ministers  or  their  sovereign  less  than  a  generation  later, 
it  seems  sober  and  even  mild.  Wilkes's  article  started  with 
a  citation  from  Cicero :    "  Genus  orationis  atrox  et  vehe- 

58  A  HISTORY   OF   THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.xlv. 

mens,  cui  opponitur  genus  illud  alterum  lenitatis  et  man- 
suetudinis."  Then  came  Wilkes's  comment  on  the  speech. 
He  was  careful  not  to  criticize  directly  the  King.  With  a 
prudence  that  was  perhaps  more  ironical  than  any  direct 
stroke  at  the  sovereign,  he  attacked  the  minister  who 
misled  and  misrepresented  the  monarch.  "  The  King's 
speech  has  always  been  considered  by  the  legislature  and 
by  the  public  at  large  as  the  speech  of  the  minister." 

Starting  from  this  understanding,  Wilkes  went  on  to 
stigmatize  the  Address  as  "  the  most  abandoned  instance  of 
ministerial  effrontery  ever  attempted  to  be  imposed  upon 
mankind,'^  and  he  doubted  whether  "  the  imposition  is 
greater  upon  the  sovereign  or  on  the  nation."  "  Every 
friend  of  his  country,"  the  writer  declared,  "  must  lament 
that  a  ]Drince  of  so  many  great  and  amiable  qualities,  whom 
England  truly  reveres,  can  be  brought  to  give  the  sanction 
of  his  sacred  name  to  the  most  odious  measures  and  to  the 
most  unjustifiable  public  declarations  from  a  throne  ever 
renowned  for  truth,  honor,  and  unsullied  virtue." 

The  article  was  not  intemperate  and  it  certainly  was  not 
unjust.  But  when  it  appeared  the  King  was  still  new 
flushed  with  his  idea  of  his  own  personal  authority  in  the 
State,  and  the  slightest  censure  of  his  policy  goaded  him 
into  a  kind  of  frenzy.  Had  Wilkes  endeavored  with  his 
own  hand  to  kill  the  King  in  his  palace  of  St.  James's  he 
could  hardly  have  made  the  monarch  more  furious.  He 
had  long  hated  and  his  ministers  had  long  dreaded  the 
outspoken  journalist.  King  and  ministers  now  felt  that 
the  time  had  arrived  when  they  could  strike,  and  strike 
effectively.  The  King  commanded  the  law  officers  of  the 
Crown  to  read  the  article  and  give  their  opinion  upon  it. 
The  law  officers  did  the  work  that  they  knew  the  King  ex- 
pected from  them.  They  found  that  the  paper  was  an  in- 
famous and  seditious  libel  tending  to  incite  the  people  to 
insurrection.  They  declared  that  the  offence  was  one  pun- 
ishable in  due  course  of  law  as  a  misdemeanor.  Upon  this 
hint  the  ministers  acted,  rapidly  and  rashly.  A  general 
warrant  was  issued  for  the  apprehension  of  the  authors, 
printers,  and  publishers  of  the  North  Briton.    The  printer 

1763.  ARREST   OF   WILKES.  59 

and  the  publisher  were  arrested  and  brought  before  Lord 
Halifax  and  Lord  Egremont,  to  whom  they  gave  up  the 
names  of  John  Wilkes  and  Charles  Churchill  as  the  authors 
of  the  North  Briton.  The  next  step  was  to  arrest  Wilkes 

The  King's  messengers  came  upon  Wilkes  in  his  house 
in  Great  George  Street,  Westminster.  It  is  honorably 
characteristic  of  the  man  that  in  the  moment  of  his  own 
danger  he  felt  more  concern  for  the  danger  of  another. 
While  he  was  arguing  with  the  officials  that  they  had  no 
power  to  arrest  him,  as  he  was  a  member  of  Parliament 
and  therefore  privileged  against  arrest,  Churchill  came 
into  the  room  on  a  visit  to  Wilkes.  Churchill,  Wilkes 
knew,  was  as  certain  to  be  arrested  as  he  was.  Churchill 
could  plead  no  privilege.  It  was  probable  that  the  mes- 
sengers were  unfamiliar  with  Churchill's  face.  Wilkes, 
with  happy  good-nature  and  happy  audacity,  immediately 
hailed  Churchill  as  Mr.  Thompson,  clasped  his  hand  and 
inquired  affectionately  how  Mrs.  Thompson  did  and  if  she 
was  going  to  dine  in  the  country.  If  Wilkes  was  clever 
in  his  suggestion  Churchill  was  no  less  clever  in  taking  the 
hint.  He  thanked  Wilkes,  declared  that  Mrs.  Thompson 
was  at  that  moment  waiting  for  him,  and  that  he  had 
merely  called  in  to  inquire  after  the  health  of  Wilkes. 
Saying  which,  Churchill  swiftly  bowed  himself  out,  hur- 
ried home,  secured  all  his  papers,  and  disappeared  into 
the  country.  The  King's  messengers,  who  were  promptly 
at  his  lodgings,  were  never  able  to  discover  his  whereabouts. 

The  flight  to  which  Wilkes  so  ingeniously  assisted  him 
is  not  the  brightest  part  of  Churchill's  career.  He  carried 
with  him  into  his  retreat  a  young  girl,  a  ^liss  Carr,  the 
daughter  of  a  Westminster  stonecutter,  whom  the  charms 
of  Churchill's  manners  had  induced  to  leave  her  father's 
house.  He  could  not  marry  the  girl,  as  he  was  married 
already,  and,  to  do  him  justice,  he  appears  soon  to  have  re- 
pented the  wrong  he  had  done  her.  But  after  an  unsuc- 
cessful attempt  on  the  girl's  part  to  live  again  with  her 
o\^ai  people  she  returned  to  her  lover,  and  she  lived  with  her 
lover  to  the  end.     Churchill  seems  to  have  been  sincerely 

60  A  HISTORY  OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlv. 

attached  to  her.  If  he  had  been  a  free  man,  if  his  life  had 
not  been  blighted  by  his  early  unhappy  marriage,  their 
union  might  have  been  a  very  happy  one.  At  his  death  he 
left  annuities  to  both  women,  to  the  woman  he  had  mar- 
ried and  the  woman  he  had  loved,  the  wife's  annuity  being 
the  larger  of  the  two. 

While  Churchill  was  making  his  way  as  quickly  as  pos- 
sible out  of  a  town  that  his  services  to  his  friend  had 
rendered  too  hot  to  hold  him,  Wilkes  was  immediately 
hurried  before  Lord  Halifax  and  Lord  Egremont  at  White- 
hall. He  carried  himself  very  composedly  in  the  presence 
of  his  enemies.  He  persistently  asserted  his  privilege,  as 
a  member  of  Parliament,  against  arrest.  He  refused  to 
answer  any  questions  or  to  acknowledge  the  authorship  of 
No.  45  of  the  North  Briton.  He  professed  with  equal  en- 
thusiasm his  loyalty  to  the  King  and  his  loathing  of  the 
King's  advisers,  and  he  announced  his  intention  of  bring- 
ing the  matter  before  Parliament  the  moment  that  the 
session  began.  Egremont  and  Halifax  retaliated  by  send- 
ing Wilkes  to  the  Tower  and  causing  his  house  to  be 
searched  and  all  his  papers  to  be  seized.  The  high-handed 
folly  of  the  King's  friends  had  for  their  chief  effect  the 
conversion  of  men  who  had  little  sympathy  for  Wilkes 
into,  if  not  his  advocates,  at  least  his  allies  against  the 
illegal  methods  which  were  employed  to  crush  him. 

Wilkes,  through  his  friends,  immediately  applied  to 
the  Court  of  Common  Pleas  for  a  writ  of  habeas  corpus. 
This  was  at  once  obtained,  and  was  served  upon  the  mes- 
sengers of  the  Secretary  of  State.  But  Wilkes  was  no 
longer  in  their  custody,  and  Wilkes  was  detained  in  the 
Tower  for  a  whole  week,  part  of  the  time,  as  he  declared, 
in  solitary  confinement,  before  he  was  brought  into  court. 
Judge  Pratt  immediately  ordered  his  discharge  on  the 
ground  of  his  claim  to  immunity  from  arrest  as  a  member 
of  Parliament,  without  prejudice  to  any  later  action 
against  him. 

It  was  while  Wilkes  was  before  Pratt  at  Westminster 
that,  if  we  may  accept  the  authority  of  Churchill,  one  of 
Wilkes's  keenest  enemies  seized  an  opportunity  for  a  cruel 


revenge.     Hogarth  hated  both  Wilkes  and  Churchill.     He 
had  begun  the  quarrel  by  attacking  the  North  Briton  and 
the  Monitor  in  his  cartoon  "  The  Times/'  executed  for 
the  greater  glorification  of  the  painter's  patron,  Lord  Bute. 
The  North  Briton  replied  to  this  attack  with  a  vigor  which 
infuriated  Hogarth,  who  had  his  full  share  of  the  irritable 
vanity  which  the  world  always  attributes  to  the  artist. 
In  Wilkes's  difficulty  Hogarth  saw  his  opportunity.    Lurk- 
ing behind  a  screen  in  the  Court  of  Common  Pleas,  the 
painter  sought  and  found  an  opportunity  for  making  a 
sketch  of  Wilkes.    While  Justice  Pratt,  with  what  Wilkes 
called  "  the  eloquence  and  courage  of  old  Pome,"  was  lay- 
ing down  the  law  upon  the  prisoner's  plea  preparatory  to 
setting  him  at  liberty,  Hogarth's  busy  jDencil  was  engaged 
upon  the  first  sketch  for  that  caricature  which  has  helped 
to  make  Wilkes's  features  famous  and  infamous  through- 
out the  world.     The  print  was  promptly  published  at  a 
shilling,  and  com.manded  an  enormous  sale.     Nearly  four 
thousand  copies,  it  is  said,  were  sold  within  a  few  weeks. 
The  envenomed  skill  of  Hogarth  has  made  the  appearance 
of  Wilkes  almost  as  familiar  to  us  as  to  the  men  of  his  own 
time.     The  sneering,  satyr  face,  the  sinister  squint,  the 
thrust-out  chin  and   protruding  lower  jaw  belong  to   a 
face  severely  visited  by  Nature,  even  when  liberal  allow- 
ance is  made  for  the  animosity  that  prompted  the  hand 
of  the  caricaturist.     The  caricature  was  a  savage  stroke; 
to   Wilkes's  friends   it   seemed  to  be   a  traitor's   stroke. 
Wilkes  appears  to  have  taken  it,  as  he  took  most  things, 
with  composure.     ^'  I  know,"  he  wrote  later,   "  but  one 
short  apology  to  be  made  for  the  person  of  Mr.  Wilkes; 
it  is  that  he  did  not  make  himself,  and  that  he  never  was 
solicitous  about  the  case  of  his  soul  (as  Shakespeare  calls 
it)  only  so  far  as  to  keep  it  clean  and  in  health.     I  never 
once  heard  that  he  hung  over  the   glassy   stream,   like 
another  Narcissus,  admiring  the  image  in  it,  nor  that  he 
ever  stole  an  amorous  look  at  his  counterfeit  in  a  side 
mirror.    His  form,  such  as  it  is,  ought  to  give  him  no  pain 
while  it  is  capable  of  giving  so  much  pleasure  to  others. 
I  believe  he  finds  himself  tolerably  happy  in  the  clay  cot- 

C2  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlt. 

tage  to  wliich  he  is  a  tenant  for  life,  because  he  has  learned 
to  keep  it  in  pretty  good  order;  while  the  share  of  health 
and  animal  spirits  which  Heaven  has  given  him  shall  hold 
ont,  I  can  scarcely  imagine  he  will  be  one  moment  peevish 
about  the  outside  of  so  precarious,  so  temporary  a  habita- 
tion, or  will  ever  be  brought  to  own  '  Ingenium  Galbae 
male  habitat :'  '  Monsieur  est  mal  loge.'  "  Good-humored 
at  the  time,  his  good-humor  persevered,  and  in  later  life 
he  was  wont  to  say  jestingly  that  he  found  he  was  growing 
more  and  more  like  his  famous  portrait  every  day.  But 
if  it  was  becoming  of  Wilkes  to  bear  the  attack  in  so  serene 
and  even  so  jocular  a  spirit,  it  was  not  unbecoming,  as  it 
was  not  ungenerous,  of  his  friends  to  fail  to  imitate  the 
coolness  of  their  leader.  It  is  not  quite  easy  to  understand 
why,  in  an  age  of  caricature,  an  age  when  all  men  of  any 
notoriety  were  caricatured,  the  friends  of  Wilkes  were  so 
sensitive  to  the  satire  of  Hogarth.  Public  men,  and  the 
friends  of  public  men,  have  grown  less  sensitive.  However, 
Wilkes's  friends  were,  and  showed  themselves  to  be,  as 
angry  as  Wilkes  was,  or  showed  himself  to  be,  indifferent, 
and  the  hottest  and  angriest  of  them  all  was  Churchill. 
Churchill  could  retaliate,  and  Churchill  did  retaliate  with 
a  ferocity  that  equalled  and  more  than  equalled  Hogarth's. 
With  a  rage  that  was  prompted  by  friendship,  yet  with 
a  coolness  that  the  importance  of  the  cause  he  championed 
called  for,  Churchill  aimed  blow  after  blow  upon  the 
offending  painter.  The  skill  of  a  practised  executioner 
directed  every  stroke  to  a  fresh  spot,  and  with  every  stroke 
brought  blood.  The  satirist  called  upon  Hogarth  by  his 
name,  to  stand  forth  and  be  tried  "  in  that  great  court 
where  conscience  must  preside,"  bade  him  review  his  life 
from  his  earliest  youth,  and  say  if  he  could  recall  a  single 
instance  in  which 

Thou  with  an  equal  eye  didst  genius  view 
And  give  to  merit  what  was  merit's  due? 
Genius  and  merit  are  a  sure  offence, 
And  thy  soul  sickens  at  the  name  of  sense. 

The  poet  goes  on  to  say  that  "  when  Wilkes  our  country- 


man,  our  common  friend  arose,  his  King,  his  country  to 
defend,"  Malice 

Had  killed  thee,  tottering  on  life's  utmost  verge, 
Had  Wilkes  and  Liberty  escaped  thy  scourge. 

And  then,  in  some  two  hundred  lines  of  strenuous  rage, 
Churchill  denounced  Hogarth  with  a  denunciation  that 
was  the  more  effective  because  it  was  accompanied  by  a 
frank  and  full  recognition  of  Hogarth's  great  gifts  and 
deserved  title  to  fame.  Hogarth  retaliated  by  his  famous 
caricature  of  Churchill  as  a  canonical  bear  with  a  pot  of 
porter  in  one  paw  and  a  huge  cudgel  in  the  other,  the 
knots  on  the  cudgel  being  numbered  as  Lie  1,  Tie  2,  and 
so  forth.  Instantly  the  great  caricaturist  was  attacked  by 
others  eager  to  strike  at  one  wdio  had  struck  so  hard  in  his 
day.  The  hatred  of  Bute  was  extended  to  the  painter  who 
condescended  to  accept  Bute's  patronage,  and  who  labored 
to  please  his  patron.  Hogarth  w^as  derided  as  "  The 
Butyner,"  in  mockery  of  his  "  Analysis  of  Beauty."  It 
would  have  been  as  lucky  for  Hogarth  as  it  would  have 
been  luckv  for  Bute  to  let  Wilkes  alone. 

If  Wilkes's  release  filled  his  supporters  throughout  the 
country  with  delight,  it  only  spurred  on  his  enemies  to 
fresh  attempts  and  fresh  blunders.  Had  they  left  the 
matter  where  it  stood,  even  though  it  stood  at  a  defeat  to 
them,  they  would  have  spared  themselves  much  ignominy. 
But  the  fury  of  the  King  inspired  a  fiercer  fury  in  the 
ministers  and  those  who  followed  the  ministers.  Every 
weapon  at  their  command  was  immediately  levelled  at 
Wilkes,  even,  it  may  not  be  unfairly  asserted,  the  assassin's 
weapon.  Wilkes  carried  himself  gallantly,  defiantly,  even 
insolently.  His  attitude  w^as  not  one  to  tempt  angry 
opponents  to  forbearance.  His  letters  from  the  Tower 
and  after  his  release  to  Lord  Halifax  were  couched  in  the 
most  contemptuous  language.  He  brought  an  action 
against  Lord  Halifax.  He  brought  an  action  against  Mr. 
Wood,  the  Under-Secretary  of  State,  and  was  awarded 
£1,000  damages.  When  Lord  Egremont  died,  in  the  Au- 
gust of  1763,  Wilkes  declared  that  he  had  "  been  gathered 

64  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlv. 

to  the  dull  of  ancient  days."  He  republished  the  numbers 
of  the  North  Briton  in  a  single  volume  with  notes,  to  prove 
that  the  King's  speech  could  constitutionally  be  only  re- 
garded as  the  utterance  of  the  King's  ministers.  There 
must  have  been  a  splendid  stubbornness  in  the  man  which 
enabled  him  to  face  so  daringly,  so  aggressively,  the  des- 
perate odds  against  him. 

Every  man  who  wished  to  curry  favor  with  the  King  and 
the  King's  ministers  was  ready  to  strike  his  blow  at  Wilkes. 
There  was  not  a  bully  among  the  hangers-on  of  the  King 
and  ministers  who  was  not  eager  to  cross  swords  with 
Wilkes  or  level  pistol  at  him.  Insult  after  insult,  injury 
after  injury,  were  offered  to  the  obnoxious  politician.  The 
King  dismissed  him  from  the  colonelcy  of  the  Bucking- 
hamshire Militia.  Lord  Temple  was  the  Lord-Lieutenant 
of  the  county  of  Buckinghamshire,  and  as  Lord-Lieutenant 
it  was  his  duty  to  convey  to  Wilkes  the  news  of  his  disgrace. 
Never  was  such  news  so  conveyed.  Temple  told  Wilkes  of 
his  dismissal  in  a  letter  of  warm  enthusiasm,  of  warm  per- 
sonal praise.  The  King  immediately  retaliated  by  remov- 
ing Temple  from  the  Lord-Lieutenancy  and  striking  his 
name  off  the  list  of  privy  councillors.  The  enmity  was  not 
confined  to  the  King  and  to  the  parasites  who  sought  to 
please  the  King.  Dr.  Johnson  declared  that  if  he  were 
the  monarch  he  would  have  sent  half  a  dozen  footmen  to 
duck  Wilkes  for  daring  to  censure  his  royal  master  or  his 
royal  master's  ministers.  In  the  House  of  Commons  the 
hostility  was  at  its  height.  When  Parliament  met  Wilkes 
sought  to  call  the  attention  of  the  House  to  his  case,  but 
was  anticipated  by  Grenville,  who  read  a  royal  message 
directed  at  Wilkes,  the  result  of  which  was  that  the  House 
voted  that  the  number  Forty-five  of  the  North  Briton  was 
a  seditious  libel,  and  ordered  it  to  be  burned  by  the  com- 
mon hangman. 

The  basest  part  of  the  attack  upon  Wilkes  was  the  use 
that  his  enemies  made  of  his  private  papers,  the  way  in 
which  they  associated  his  political  conduct  with  an  offence 
that  was  wholly  unpolitical.  It  had  amused  Wilkes  to  set 
up  a  private  printing-press  at  his  own  house.     At  this 

1763.  WILKES  AND   HIS   ACCUSERS.  65 

press  certain  productions  were  printed  which  were  no  doubt 
indecent,  which  were  no  doubt  blasphemous,  but  which 
were  furthermore  so  foolish  as  to  make  both  their  indecency 
and  their  blasphemy  of  very  little  effect.  One  was  the 
"  Essay  on  Woman,"  written  as  a  parody  of  Pope's  "  Essay 
on  Man ;"  the  other  was  an  imitation  of  the  "  Yeni  Crea- 
tor." Xeither  of  these  pieces  of  gross  buffoonery  bore  any 
author's  name.  Very  few  copies  of  them  had  been  printed, 
and  these  few  solely  for  circulation  among  private  friends 
with  a  taste  for  foul  literature.  Xo  offence  had  been  com- 
mitted, no  offence  had  been  intended,  against  public  mo- 
rality. It  is  certain,  as  far  as  any  literary  puzzle  can  be 
regarded  as  certain,  that  Wilkes's  share  in  the  dirty  busi- 
ness was  chiefly,  if  not  entirely,  limited  to  the  printing  of 
the  pages.  The  "  Essay  on  Woman,"  as  those  who  have 
had  the  misfortune  to  read  it  know,  is  a  dreary  writer's 
piece  of  schoolboy  obscenity,  if  entirely  disgusting,  no  less 
entirely  dull.  The  text  of  the  "  Essay  "  was  composed  in 
great  part,  if  not  altogether,  by  Potter,  the  unworthy  son 
of  the  Archbishop  of  Canterbury  and  worthy  member  of 
the  ^ledmenham  brotherhood.  When  Wilkes's  papers  were 
seized,  or  by  some  other  means,  the  Government  got  pos- 
session of  the  proof  sheets  of  the  "  Essay  on  Woman." 
They  immediately  resolved,  in  defiance  of  public  decenc}'', 
of  political  moralit}',  to  use  it  as  a  weapon  against  their 
enemy.  It  shows  the  shallo"«Tiess  of  their  pretence  at  justi- 
fication that  they  put  the  weapon  into  the  hands  of  the 
worst  and  basest  of  Wilkes's  former  friends  and  allies  in 
profligacy,  into  the  hands  of  Lord  Sandwich.  On  the  first 
night  of  the  session  Lord  Sandwich  rose  in  the  House  of 
Lords,  and  proceeded  to  denounce  Wilkes  and  the  "  Essay 
on  Woman  "  with  a  vehemence  of  false  austerity  that  im- 
pressed the  assembly  and  infinitely  delighted  Lord  Le  De- 
spencer,  who  had  been  the  common  friend,  the  brother 
sinner  of  accuser  and  accused,  and  who  now  expressed 
much  entertainment  at  hearing  the  devil  preach.  The 
spurious  virtue  of  Sandwich  was  followed  by  the  spurious 
indignation  of  Warburton.  The  "  Essay  on  Woman  "  con- 
tained certain  notes  written  in  parody  of  Warburton's  notes 
VOL.  ni. — 3 

66  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.xlv. 

to  the  ''  Essay  on  Man/'  just  as  the  verses  themselves  were 
a  parody  on  Pope's  poem.  Warburton  chose  to  regard  this 
as  a  breach  of  privilege,  and  he  assailed  Wilkes  with  even 
greater  fury  than  Sandwich  had  done,  winding  np  by 
apologizing  to  the  devil  for  even  comparing  Wilkes  to  him. 
An  admiring  House  immediately  voted  the  poems  obscene, 
libellous,  and  a  breach  of  privilege.  Two  days  afterwards 
an  address  from  the  Lords  called  upon  the  King  to  prose- 
cute Wilkes  for  blasphemy. 

Wilkes  was  unable  to  face  this  new  attack.  He  had  al- 
ready fallen  a  victim  to  an  attack  of  another  and  no  less 
malignant  nature.  While  the  creatures  of  the  Government 
in  the  Upper  House  were  trying  to  destroy  his  character,  one 
of  their  creatures  in  the  Lower  House  was  doing  his  best 
to  take  Wilkes's  life.  This  was  a  man  named  Martin,  who 
had  been  attacked  in  the  North  Briton  some  eight  months 
earlier.  Martin  seemed  to  have  resolved  upon  revenge, 
and  to  have  set  about  obtaining  it  after  the  fashion  not 
of  the  gentleman,  but  of  the  bravo.  Day  by  day,  week  by 
week,  month  by  month  he  practised  himself  in  pistol  shoot- 
ing, until  he  considered  that  his  skill  was  sufficient  to 
enable  him  to  take  the  dastard's  hazard  in  a  duel.  He 
seized  the  opportunity  of  the  debate  on  November  15th  to 
describe  the  writer  in  the  North  Brito7i  as  a  "  coward  and 
a  malignant  scoundrel."  When  Wilkes,  on  the  following 
day,  avowed  the  authorship  of  the  paper,  Martin  sent  him 
a  challenge.  The  challenge  was  in  all  respects  a  strange 
one.  It  was  treacherous,  because  it  came  at  the  heels  of 
deliberate  preparation.  It  was  peremptory,  for  it  called 
upon  Wilkes  to  meet  his  enemy  in  Hyde  Park  within  an 
hour.  It  contravened  the  laws  of  the  duello,  because  Mar- 
tin, who  was  the  challenger,  himself  insisted  on  the  use 
of  the  weapons  with  which  he  had  made  himself  so  mur- 
derously skilful.  Wilkes  accepted  the  duel  with  char- 
acteristic courage,  with  characteristic  rashness.  He  met 
Martin  in  Hyde  Park,  and  the  amateur  bravo  shot  Wilkes 
through  the  body.  It  is  a  further  characteristic  of  the 
many  elements  of  good  that  went  to  Wilkes's  strange  com- 
position that,  as  he  lay  on  the  grass  bleeding  fast  and  ap- 

1763.     WILKES   AS  A   CHAMPION    OF   POPULAR  LIBERTY.       67 

parently  mortally  wounded,  his  first  care  was  not  for  him- 
self and  his  hurt,  but  for  the  safety  of  his  adversary,  of 
an  adversary  who  deserved  chivalrous  treatment  as  little 
as  if  he  had  taken  Wilkes  unawares  and  shot  him  in  the 

While  Wilkes  was  lying  on  what  threatened  to  be  his 
death-bed  the  feeling  on  both  sides  only  increased  in  in- 
tensity. The  Ministry  were  indifferent  to  the  helplessness 
of  their  enemy.  Wilkes  was  expelled  from  the  House  of 
Commons.  He  was  expelled  from  the  Militia.  The  com- 
mon hangman  was  ordered  publicly  to  burn  the  North 
Briton,  but  the  hangman  was  not  suffered  to  obey  the 
order.  An  angry  mob  set  upon  him  and  upon  the  sheriffs 
who  were  assisting  at  the  ceremony,  rescued  the  North 
Briton  from  its  persecutors,  and  in  rude  retaliation  burned 
instead  the  joint  emblems  of  the  popular  disdain — a  boot 
and  a  petticoat.  The  people^s  blood  was  up ;  the  symptoms 
were  significant  enough  for  any  save  such  a  King  and  such 
ministers  to  understand.  While  the  Ministry,  with  a  re- 
finement of  cruelty,  were  sending  daily  the  King^s  sur- 
geons to  watch  Wilkes's  health  and  proclaim  the  moment 
when  he  might  again  be  attacked,  the  Corporation  of  Dub- 
lin was  setting  an  example  that  was  soon  followed  by  the 
Corporation  of  London  and  by  other  corporations  in  pre- 
senting him  with  the  freedom  of  its  city.  While  Wilkes 
was  slowly  journeying  towards  Paris,  where  his  daughter 
was,  and  passing,  as  he  wrote,  "  the  most  unhappy  days 
he  had  known,"  an  angry  mob  gibbeted  the  effigy  of  Bute 
at  one  of  the  gates  of  Exeter,  and  kept  the  image  swinging 
there  in  derision  for  a  fortnight  in  defiance  of  the  authori- 
ties. While  Wilkes  was  languishing  in  foreign  exile  to 
save  his  liberty  and  his  very  life  from  the  malignity  of  his 
enemies,  his  portrait,  painted  by  Ee\Tiolds,  was  placed  in 
the  Guildhall  with  an  inscription  in  honor  of  the  jealous 
assertor  of  English  liberty  by  law. 

Wilkes  was  well  advised  in  keeping  out  of  England. 
He  had  done  his  part.  The  decisions  of  Pratt  in  the  Court 
of  Common  Pleas,  the  decisions  in  the  Guildhall,  had  con- 
ferred a  permanent  benefit  upon  the  English  citizen.    But 

68  A  HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  xlt. 

Wilkes  was  not  bound  to  put  himself  into  the  power  of 
his  enemies  in  order  to  establish  the  authorship  of  the 
"  Essay  on  Woman."  His  enemies  took  as  much  advantage 
as  they  could  of  his  absence.  He  was  found  guilty  by  the 
Court  of  King's  Bench  of  having  reprinted  the  number 
Forty-five  and  of  having  written  the  "  Essay  on  Woman." 
As  he  did  not  appear  to  receive  his  sentence,  he  was 
promptly  outlawed  for  contumacy.  Thus  a  Ministry  wise 
in  their  own  conceit  believed  that  they  had  got  rid  of 
Wilkes  for  good  and  all.  They  did  not  note,  or  if  they 
noted  did  not  heed,  that  the  favorite  sign  of  ale-houses 
throughout  the  country  was  the  head  of  Wilkes.  They 
were  indifferent  to  the  fact  that  Wilkes  had  come  to  be 
regarded  in  all  directions  as  the  champion  of  popular  lib- 
erty. All  they  knew,  all  that  they  cared  to  know,  was  that 
Wilkes  was  in  exile,  and  was  like  enough  to  die  in  exile. 
Even  the  success  of  "  The  Beggar's  Opera  "  taught  them 
nothing,  and  yet  the  success  of  "  The  Beggar's  Opera  "  was 
a  significant  lesson.  "  The  Beggar's  Opera  "  was  revived 
at  Covent  Garden  while  the  excitement  about  Wilkes  was 
at  its  height,  and  its  audiences  were  as  ready  to  read  in 
political  allusions  between  the  lines  as  they  had  been  at  the 
time  of  its  first  production.  The  line  "  That  Jemmy 
Twitcher  should  peach  on  me  I  own  rather  surprises  me  " 
was  converted  at  once  into  an  innuendo  at  the  expense  of 
Lord  Sandwich,  to  whom  the  name  Jemmv  Twitcher  was 
immediately  applied  by  the  public  at  large,  almost  to  the 
disuse,  so  Horace  Walpole  tells  us,  of  his  own  title. 

But  the  Ministry  had  so  far  triumphed  that  for  four 
years  Wilkes  remained  away  from  England,  drifting  from 
one  foreign  capital  to  another,  making  friends  and  win- 
ning admirers  everywhere,  and  employing  his  enforced 
leisure  in  attempting  great  feats  of  literary  enterprise.  A 
scheme  for  a  Constitutional  History  of  England  was  suc- 
ceeded by  a  no  less  difficult  and,  as  it  proved,  no  less  im- 
practicable scheme.  During  Wilkes's  exile  he  lost  the  most 
famous  of  his  enemies  and  the  most  famous  of  his  friends. 
On  October  26,  1764,  Hogarth  died.  It  was  commonly 
said,  and  generally  credited,  that  he  died  of  a  broken  heart 


in  consequence  of  the  furious  attacks  which  had  followed 
upon  his  unhappy  quarrel  with  Wilkes.  It  was  a  pity  that 
the  closing  hours  of  Hogarth's  life  should  have  been  oc- 
cupied with  so  petty  and  so  regrettable  a  squabble.  Ho- 
garth was  entirely  in  the  wrong.  Hogarth  began  the  quar- 
rel; and  if  Hogarth  was  eager  to  give  hard  knocks  he 
should  have  been  readv  to  take  hard  knocks  in  return.  But 
the  world  at  large  may  very  well  be  glad  that  Hogarth  did 
lurk  in  the  court  by  Justice  Pratt  and  did  make  his  mem- 
orable sketch  of  Wilkes.  The  sketch  serves  to  show  us  if 
not  what  Wilkes  exactly  was,  at  least  what  Wilkes  seemed 
to  be  to  a  great  many  of  his  countrymen.  The  caricaturist 
is  a  priceless  commentator.  If  Hogarth  indeed  indirectly 
shortened  his  life  by  his  portrait  of  Wilkes,  he  gave,  as 
if  by  transfusion  of  blood,  an  increased  and  abiding  vitality 
to  certain  of  the  most  interesting  pages  of  history. 

Within  a  few  days  of  Hogarth,  Churchill  died.  His 
devotion  to  Wilkes  prompted  him  to  join  him  in  his  Con- 
tinental banishment.  He  got  as  far  as  Boulogne,  where 
Wilkes  met  him,  and  at  Boulogne  he  died  of  a  fever,  after 
formally  naming  Wilkes  as  his  literary  executor.  Wilkes, 
who  was  always  prompted  by  generous  impulses,  immedi- 
ately resolved  that  he  would  edit  a  collected  edition  of 
Churchill's  works,  and  for  a  time  he  buried  himself  in 
seclusion  in  Naples  with  the  firm  intention  of  carrying 
out  this  purpose.  But  the  task  was  too  great  both  for  the 
man  and  for  the  conditions  under  which  he  was  compelled 
to  work.  In  the  first  place,  annotations  of  such  poems  as 
Churchill's  required  constant  reference  to  and  minute  ac- 
quaintance with  home  affairs,  such  as  it  was  well-nigh  im- 
possible for  an  exile  to  command.  In  the  second  place, 
it  was  not  an  easy  task  for  a  man  even  with  a  very  high 
opinion  of  himself  to  play  the  part  of  editor  and  annotator 
of  poems  a  great  part  of  which  had  him  for  hero.  In 
a  very  short  time  the  work  was  abandoned,  and  Wilkes 
emerged  from  his  literary  retreat. 

Wilkes  has  been  very  bitterly  and,  as  it  would  appear, 
very  unjustly  upbraided  for  his  seeming  neglect  of  his  dead 
friend's  wishes,  of  his  dead  defender's  fame.     In  spite  of 

70  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlv. 

those  whose  zeal  for  the  memory  of  Churchill  drives  them 
into  antagonism  with  the  memory  of  Wilkes,  it  may  be 
believed  that  the  task  was  not  one  "  for  which  Wilkes 
could,  with  the  greatest  ease,  have  procured  all  the  neces- 
sary materials;  and  to  which  he  was  called  not  by  the 
sacred  duties  of  friendship  only,  but  by  the  plainest  con- 
siderations of  even  the  commonest  gratitude."  Even  if 
Wilkes  had  been,  which  Wilkes  was  not,  the  kind  of  a  man 
to  make  a  good  editor,  a  good  annotator,  the  difficulties 
that  lay  in  the  way  of  the  execution  of  his  task  were  too 
many.  The  fact  that  the  poems  were  so  largely  about  him- 
self gave  a  sufficient  if  not  an  almost  imperative  reason 
why  he  should  leave  the  task  alone.  But  in  any  case  he 
must  have  felt  conscious  of  what  events  proved,  that  there 
was  other  work  for  him  to  do  in  the  world  than  the  editing 
of  other  men's  satires. 

Not,  indeed,  that  the  genius  of  Churchill  needed  any 
tribute  that  Wilkes  or  anv  one  else  could  bestow.  His 
monument  is  in  his  own  verses,  in  the  story  of  his  life.  If 
indeed  the  lines  from  "The  Candidate"  which  are  inscribed 
on  Churchill's  tombstone  tell  the  truth,  if  indeed  his  life 
was  "  to  the  last  enjoyed,"  part  of  that  enjoyment  may 
well  have  come  from  the  certainty  that  the  revolutions  of 
time  would  never  quite  efface  his  name  or  obscure  his 
memory.  The  immortality  of  the  satirist  must  almost  in- 
evitably be  an  immortality  rather  historical  than  artistic; 
it  is  rather  what  he  says  than  how  he  says  it  which  is  ac- 
counted unto  him  for  good.  As  there  are  passages  of  great 
poetic  beauty  in  the  satires  of  Juvenal,  so  there  are  passages 
of  poetic  beauty  in  the  satires  of  Churchill.  But  they  are 
both  remembered,  the  great  Roman  and  the  great  English- 
man, less  for  what  beauty  their  work  permitted  than  for 
the  themes  on  which  they  exercised  their  wit.  The  study 
of  Churchill  is  as  essential  to  a  knowledge  of  the  eigh- 
teenth century  in  London  as  the  study  of  Juvenal  is  essen- 
tial to  a  knowledge  of  the  Rome  of  his  time.  That  fame 
Churchill  had  secured  for  himself;  to  that  fame  nothing 
that  Willies  or  any  one  else  might  do  could  add. 




Wilkes  in  exile  had  ceased  to  exist  in  the  minds  of  the 
King's  Ministry.  In  Naples  or  in  Paris  he  was  as  little 
to  be  feared  as  Churchill  in  his  grave.  An  insolent  subject 
had  presumed  directly  to  attack  the  King's  advisers  and 
indirectly  the  King  himself,  and  the  insolent  subject  was  a 
fugitive,  a  broken,  powerless  man.  The  young  King  might 
well  be  pleased  with  the  success  of  his  policy.  In  pursuance 
of  that  policy  he  had  reduced  the  great  fabric  of  the  Whig 
party  to  a  ruin,  and  had  driven  the  factious  demagogue 
who  opposed  him  into  an  ignominious  obscurity.  To  a 
temper  flushed  by  two  such  triumphs  opposition  of  any 
kind  was  well-nigh  welcome  for  the  pleasure  of  crushing 
it,  and  was  never  less  likely  to  be  encountered  in  a  spirit 
of  conciliation.  Yet  the  King  was  destined  in  the  very 
glow  of  his  success  to  find  himself  face  to  face  with  an 
opposition  which  he  Avas  not  able  to  crush,  and  on  which 
any  attempt  at  conciliation  was  but  so  much  waste  of  time. 
The  King's  new  and  formidable  opponent  was  his  own  chief 

When  Bute,  perhaps  in  fear  for  his  life,  perhaps  in 
despair  at  his  unpopularity,  resigned  the  office  he  filled 
so  ill,  he  hoped  to  find  in  his  successor  Grenville  a  supple 
and  responsive  creature,  through  whom  Bute  would  still 
be  as  powerful  as  before.  Bute  had  to  taste  a  bitter  dis- 
appointment. Grenville's  gloomy  spirit  and  narrow  mind 
unfitted  him,  indeed,  for  the  office  he  was  called  upon  to 
hold,  but  they  afforded  him  a  stubbornness  which  declined 
to  recognize  either  the  authority  of  the  favorite  or  the 
authority  of  the  favorite's  master.  By  the  time  that  Gren- 
ville had  been  two  years  in  office  the  King  hated  him  as 

72  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlvi. 

bitterly  as  he  had  ever  hated  Pitt.  If  Bute  was  impotently 
furious  to  find  himself  discarded  and  despised  by  his  in- 
tended tool,  the  King  was  still  more  exasperated  to  find  that 
the  King's  servant  proposed  to  be  the  King's  master.  Gren- 
ville  was  a  good  lawyer  and  a  good  man  of  business,  but 
he  was  extremely  dull  and  extremely  tactless,  and  he  was 
at  as  much  pains  to  offend  the  King  as  if  he  intended 
offence.  He  was  overbearing  in  manner  to  a  monarch  who 
was  himself  overbearing;  he  badgered  him  with  long  ram- 
bling discourses  upon  his  royal  duty ;  he  deliberately  wound- 
ed him  in  his  two  warmest  affections,  his  love  for  his 
mother  and  his  regard  for  Bute.  Grenville  was  right 
enough  in  his  objection  to  the  undue  influence  of  Bute, 
but  his  animadversions  came  with  a  bad  grace  from  the 
man  who  was  to  do  as  much  harm  to  England  as  Bute  had 
ever  done.  As  Grenville  had  triumphed  over  Bute  and 
driven  him  into  the  background,  so  he  wished  to  triumph 
over  the  Princess  Dowager  and  deprive  her  of  power.  In 
1765  the  King  fell  ill  for  the  first  time  of  that  malady 
from  which  he  was  to  suffer  so  often  and  so  heavilv.  As 
soon  as  he  was  restored  to  health  he  proposed  the  intro- 
duction of  a  Ee2:encv  Bill  to  settle  satisfactorilv  the  diffi- 
culties  that  might  very  well  arise  if  the  heir  to  the  throne 
were  to  succeed  before  the  age  of  eighteen. 

Grenville  acted  in  the  matter  of  the  Eegency  Bill  as 
if  the  dearest  wish  of  his  heart  were  to  flout  the  King's 
wishes  and  to  wound  his  feelings.  The  King  wished,  lest 
he  should  again  be  stricken  with  illness  while  the  heir- 
apparent  was  still  an  infant,  to  be  given  the  right  to  name 
a  regent  by  will.  Grenville  and  Grenville's  colleagues, 
who  were  now  as  jealous  of  the  authority  of  Bute  as  any 
subscriber  to  the  North  Briton,  saw  or  professed  to  see  in 
the  King's  proposal  an  insidious  scheme  for  placing  little 
less  than  royal  power  within  the  reach  of  the  favorite. 
They  made  it  impossible  for  the  King  to  name  Bute  by 
limiting  his  choice  to  the  members  of  the  royal  family. 
But  they  went  further  than  this  in  affronting  the  King. 
They  limited  his  choice  of  a  regent  to  members  of  the 
royal  family,  but  they  also  limited  the  number  of  mem- 


bers  of  the  royal  family  from  whom  he  might  make  his 
choice.  They  insisted  that  the  name  of  the  King's  mother, 
of  the  Princess  Dowager,  should  not  be  included  in  the 
Bill.  It  is  difficult  to  understand  how  the  King  could  ever 
have  been  induced  to  consent  to  this  peculiarly  galling  in- 
sult. It  seems  that  Grenville  assured  him,  on  entirely 
false  premises,  that  if  her  name  were  mentioned  in  the 
Bill  the  House  of  Commons  would  be  certain  to  strike  it 
out.  Preferring  the  private  to  the  public  affront,  George 
surrendered  to  his  minister,  only  to  find  that  his  minister 
was  flagrantly  misinformed.  The  friends  of  the  Princess 
in  the  House  of  Commons  moved  that  her  name  should  be 
written  into  the  Bill,  and  they  carried  their  point  in  Gren- 
ville's  teeth.  Grenville  had  played  the  tyrant  and  George 
had  accepted  the  humiliation  for  nothing.  George  tried 
at  once  to  overthrow  Grenville.  In  those  days  a  king  who 
disliked  a  minister  had  a  very  simple  and  easy  way  of 
showing  and  of  gratifying  his  dislike.  He  could  dismiss 
his  minister  without  ceremony  and  without  question. 
Nowadays  a  minister  depends  for  his  power  and  tenure  of 
office  upon  the  majority  in  the  House  of  Commons,  and  a 
sovereign  would  not  think  of  dismissing  a  minister,  or  of 
doing  anything  else  than  accepting  formally  the  decision 
of  the  House  of  Commons.  But  when  George  the  Third 
was  king  the  only  check  upon  the  royal  power  of  dismiss- 
ing a  minister  lay  in  the  possible  difficulty  of  finding  an- 
other to  take  his  place.  This  was  the  check  George  now 
met.  He  wanted  with  all  his  heart  to  dismiss  Grenville. 
He  turned  to  Cumberland  of  Culloden,  and  implored  him 
to  bring  back  Pitt  and  enable  him  to  get  rid  of  Grenville. 
Cumberland  tried  and  Cumberland  failed.  Pitt  was  in 
one  of  those  paroxysms  of  illness  which  seem  to  have  com- 
pletely overmastered  him.  He  was  almost  entirely  under 
the  influence  of  Temple.  Temple's  detestation  of  Bute 
reconciled  him  to  Grenville's  policy  when  he  found  that 
Grenville  seemed  to  share  that  detestation.  Temple  per- 
suaded Pitt  to  refuse.  Cumberland  came  back  to  the  King 
to  tell  of  his  failure.  There  was  nothing  to  be  done. 
Grenville  had  to  be  kept  on.     If  the  enforced  association 

74  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlvi. 

did  not  make  the  sovereign  and  his  minister  better  friends, 
if  both  smarted  under  a  sense  of  humiliation  and  defeat, 
it  is  scarcely  surprising  that  the  stubbornness  of  both  was 
intensified  in  cases  where  their  stubbornness  was  pitted 
not  against  each  other,  but  against  a  common  obstacle. 
Such  a  case  was  then  in  existence. 

Three  thousand  miles  away  the  wealth  and  power  of 
England  was  represented  by  a  number  of  settlements  occu- 
pying a  comparatively  narrow  strip  of  territory  on  the 
Atlantic  seaboard  of  the  North  American  continent.  The 
American  colonies  were  the  proudest  possessions  of  the 
British  Empire.  Through  generation  after  generation, 
for  more  than  two  centuries,  English  daring  and  English 
courage  had  built  up  those  colonies,  reclaiming  them  from 
the  wilderness  and  the  swamp,  wresting  them  from  wild 
man  and  wild  beast,  fighting  for  them  with  European 
power  after  European  power.  They  were  a  source  of 
wealth,  a  source  of  honor,  and  a  source  of  strength  to  Eng- 
land. Tliey  were  cheaply  bought  with  the  brave  lives  that 
had  been  given  for  them.  It  is  hard  to  realize  that  any 
sovereign,  that  any  statesman  could  fail  to  see  how  precious 
a  possession  they  were,  or  how  unwise  any  course  of  action 
must  be  which  could  tend  in  any  way  to  lessen  their  affec- 
tion or  to  alienate  their  support.  Yet  such  a  sovereign 
was  upon  the  throne  and  such  a  minister  was  by  his  side. 

Mr.  Willett,  senior,  in  "  Barnaby  Eudge,"  explains  to 
his  friends  that  his  absent  son  Joe  is  away  in  "  the  Sal- 
wanners  in  America,  where  the  war  is."  Mr.  Willett's 
knowledge  and  appreciation  of  the  American  colonies 
represents  pretty  well  for  profundity  and  accuracy  the 
knowledge  and  appreciation  of  the  majority  of  the  English 
people  in  the  times  contemporary  with,  and  indeed  long 
subsequent  to,  the  quarrels  between  the  old  country  and 
the  new.  To  the  bulk  of  the  British  people  America  was 
a  vague  and  shadowy  region,  a  sort  of  no-man's  land, 
peopled  for  the  m.ost  part  with  black  men  and  red  men, 
and  dimly  associated  with  sugar-planting  and  the  tobacco 
trade.  Its  distance  alone  made  it  seem  sufficiently  un- 
real to  those  whose  wav  of  life  was  not  drawn  bv  business  or 


by  politics  into  association  with  its  inhabitants.  The 
voyage  to  America  was  a  grimly  serious  adventure,  calling 
for  fortitude  and  triple  brass.  The  man  was  indeed  lucky 
who  could  make  the  passage  from  shore  to  shore  in  six 
weeks  of  stormy  sea,  and  the  journey  generally  took  a 
much  longer  time,  and  under  the  same  conditions  of  dis- 
comfort and  of  danger  that  attended  on  the  voyage  of  the 
"  Mayflower."  The  vast  majority  of  Englishmen  con- 
cerned themselves  as  little  with  America  as  they  concerned 
themselves  with  Hindostan.  Both  were  British  possessions, 
and  as  such  important,  but  both  were  too  far  away  to 
assume  any  very  substantial  reality  in  the  consciousness 
of  the  bulk  of  the  English  people.  Of  the  minority  who 
did  possess  anything  that  can  be  called  knowledge  of  the 
American  colonies,  the  majority  imbibed  its  information 
from  official  sources,  from  the  reports  of  governors  of 
provinces  and  official  servants  of  the  Crown.  These  re- 
ports were  for  the  most  part  as  reliable  for  a  basis  on  which 
to  build  an  intelligent  appreciation  as  the  legends  of  the 
Algonquins  or  the  myths  of  the  Six  Xations. 

If  the  English  knowledge  of  the  American  colonies  had 
been  a  little  more  precise  it  would  have  run  to  this  effect. 
The  colonies  of  the  New  England  region  were  mainly 
peopled  by  a  hardy,  industrious,  sober,  frugal  race,  still 
strongly  Puritanical  in  profession  and  in  practice,  and 
knowing  but  little  of  the  extremes  of  fortune.  Neither 
great  poverty  nor  great  wealth  was  common  among  those 
sturdy  farmers,  who  tended  their  own  farms,  tilled  their 
own  land,  lived  upon  their  o^vn  produce,  and  depended  for 
their  clothing  and  for  most  of  the  necessaries  of  life  upon 
the  work  of  their  own  hands.  A  slender  population  was 
scattered  far  asunder  in  lonely  townships  and  straggling 
villages  of  wooden  houses,  built  for  the  most  part  in  the 
formidable  fashion  imposed  upon  men  who  might  at  any 
time  have  to  resist  the  attacks  of  Indians.  Inside  these 
villages  the  rough,  rude  justice  of  the  Puritan  days  still 
persisted.  The  stocks  and  the  pillory  and  the  stool  of 
repentance  were  things  of  the  present.  A  shrewish  house- 
wife might  still  be  made  to  stand  at  her  cottage  door  with 

'76  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlti. 

the  iron  gag  of  the  scold  fastened  upon  her  shameful  face. 
A  careless  Sabbatarian  might  still  find  himself  exposed  to 
the  scorn  of  a  congregation,  with  the  words  "  A  wanton 
gospeller  "  placarded  upon  his  ignominious  breast.  In- 
side those  wooden  houses  a  rude  simplicity  and  a  rough 
plenty  prevailed.  The  fare  was  simple ;  the  labor  was  hard ; 
simple  fare  and  stern  labor  between  them  reared  a  stalwart, 
God-fearing  race.  Its  positive  pleasures  were  few  and 
primitive.  Husking-bees,  quiltings,  a  rare  dance,  filled 
up  the  measure  of  its  diversions.  But  the  summer  smiled 
upon  those  steadfast,  earnest,  rigorous  citizens,  and  in  the 
wild  and  bitter  winters  each  household  would  gather  about 
the  cheerful  fire  in  the  great  chimney  which  in  some  of 
those  cottages  formed  the  major  part  of  the  building,  and 
find  content  and  peace  in  quiet  talk  and  in  tales  of  the 
past,  of  the  French  and  Indian  wars,  and  of  their  ances- 
tors, long  ago,  in  old  England.  Those  same  great  fires 
that  were  the  joy  of  winter  were  also  one  of  its  troubles. 
Once  lit,  with  all  the  difficulty  attendant  upon  flint  and 
steel  and  burnt  rag,  they  had  to  be  kept  alight  from  morn- 
ing till  night  and  from  night  till  morning.  If  a  fire  went 
out  it  was  a  woful  business  to  start  it  again  with  the  re- 
luctant tinder-box.  There  was,  indeed,  another  way,  an 
easier  way,  of  going  round  to  a  neighbor  and  borrowing  a 
shovelful  of  hot  embers  wherewith  to  kindle  the  blackened 
hearth.  But  in  villages  built  for  the  most  part  of  wood 
this  might  well  be  regarded  as  a  dangerous  process.  So 
the  law  did  regard  it,  and  to  start  a  fire  in  this  lazy,  loung- 
ing fashion  was  penalized  as  sternly  as  any  breach  of  the 
Sabbath  or  of  public  decorum,  and  these  were  sternly 
punished.  Drunkenness  was  grimly  frowned  down.  Only 
decent.  God-fearing  men  were  allowed  to  keep  taverns,  and 
the  names  of  persons  who  had  earned  the  reputation  of 
intemperance  were  posted  up  in  those  taverns  as  a  warn- 
ing to  the  host  that  he  should  sell  such  men  no  liquor.  In 
Connecticut  tobacco  was  forbidden  to  any  one  under  twenty 
years  of  age,  unless  on  the  express  order  of  a  physician. 
Those  who  were  over  twenty  were  only  allowed  to  smoke 
once  a  day,  and  then  not  within  ten  miles  of  any  dwelling. 


In  spite  of  their  democratic  simplicity,  even  the  New 
England  colonists  had  their  distinctions  of  rank  as  clearly 
marked  as  among  the  people  of  old  England.  The  gentry 
dressed  in  one  fashion;  the  working  classes  dressed  in 
another.  The  family  rank  of  students  determined  their 
places  in  the  lists  of  Harvard  College  and  Yale  College. 
In  Boston,  the  chief  New  England  town,  life  was  naturally 
more  elaborate  and  more  luxurious  than  in  the  country 
places.  Ladies  wore  fine  clothes  and  sought  to  be  modish 
in  the  London  manner;  gentlemen  made  a  brave  show 
in  gayly  colored  silks  and  rich  laces,  gold-headed  canes  and 
costly  snuff-boxes.  Even  in  Boston,  however,  life  was 
simpler,  quieter,  and  sweeter  than  it  was  across  the  At- 
lantic; there  was  Puritanism  in  its  atmosphere — Puritan- 
ism and  the  serenity  of  learning,  of  scholarship,  of  study. 

There  was  much  more  wealth  in  the  province  of  New 
York;  there  was  much  more  display  in  the  southern 
colonies.  New  York  was  as  famous  for  its  Dutch  cleanli- 
ness and  its  Dutch  comfort  as  for  its  Dutch  windmills  that 
twirled  their  sails  against  the  sky  in  all  directions.  There 
was  store  of  plate  and  fine  linen  in  New  York  cupboards. 
There  were  good  things  to  eat  and  drink  in  New  York 
households.  Down  South  the  gentlefolk  lived  as  gentle- 
folk lived  in  England,  with  perhaps  a  more  lavish  ostenta- 
tion, a  more  liberal  hospitality.  They  loved  horses  and 
dogs,  horse-racing  and  fox-hunting,  dancing,  music,  high 
living,  all  things  that  added  to  the  enjoyment  of  life. 
Their  servants  were  their  own  black  slaves.  The  great 
city  of  the  South  was  Charleston,  the  third  of  the  colonial 
cities.  The  fourth  and  last  was  Philadelphia,  the  "  f aire 
greene  country  town  "  of  Penn's  love,  the  last  in  our  order, 
but  the  first  in  size  and  splendor,  with  its  flagged  side- 
walks that  had  made  it  famous  throughout  the  American 
continent  as  if  it  had  been  one  of  the  seven  wonders  of 
the  world,  with  its  stately  houses  of  brick  and  stone,  its 
avenues  of  trees,  its  fruitful  orchards  and  sweet-smelling 
gardens.  The  people  of  Philadelphia  had  every  right  to 
be  proud  of  their  city. 

Communication  was  not  easy  between  one  colony  and  an- 

78  A   HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlvi. 

other,  between  one  town  and  another.  But  neither  was  it 
easy  in  England.  For  the  most  part  the  conditions  of  life 
were  much  the  same  on  one  side  of  the  Atlantic  as  on  the 
other.  The  whole  population,  white  and  black,  freeman 
and  slave,  was  about  two  million  souls.  They  were  well- 
to-do,  peaceable,  hard-working — those  who  had  to  work, 
good  fighters — those  who  had  to  fight,  all  very  willing  to 
be  loyal  and  all  very  well  worth  keeping  loyal.  It  was 
worth  their  sovereign's  while,  it  was  worth  the  while  of 
his  ministers,  to  know  something  about  these  colonists 
and  to  try  and  understand  natures  that  were  not  at  all 
difficult  to  understand.  Had  they  been  treated  as  the 
Englishmen  they  were,  all  would  have  been  well.  But  the 
King  who  gloried  in  the  name  of  Briton  did  not  extend 
its  significance  far  enough. 

It  is  not  easy  to  understand  the  temper  which  animated 
all  the  King's  actions  towards  the  American  colonies. 
They  were  regarded,  and  with  justice,  as  one  of  the  great- 
est glories  of  the  English  crown ;  they  were  no  less  a  source 
of  wealth  than  of  pride  to  the  English  people.  Yet  the 
English  prince  persisted  in  pursuing  towards  them  a  policy 
which  can  only  be  most  mildly  characterized  as  a  policy 
of  exasperation.  When  George  was  still  both  a  young  man 
and  a  young  king,  the  relations  between  the  mother  coun- 
try and  her  children  across  the  Atlantic  were,  if  not 
wholly  harmonious,  at  least  in  such  a  condition  as  to 
render  harmony  not  merely  possible,  but  probable.  The 
result  of  a  long  and  wearing  war  had  been  to  relieve  the 
colonists  directly  from  one  and  indirectly  from  the  other 
of  their  two  greatest  perils.  By  the  terms  on  which  peace 
was  made  the  power  of  France  was  broken  on  the  North 
American  continent.  The  French  troops  had  been  with- 
drawn across  the  seas.  The  Lilies  of  France  floated  over 
no  more  important  possessions  in  the  new  world  than  a 
few  insignificant  fishing  stations  near  Newfoundland.  A 
dangerous  and  dreaded  enemy  to  colonial  life  and  liberty 
could  no  longer  menace  or  alarm.  As  a  consequence  of 
the  withdrawal  of  the  French  troops  the  last  united  attack 
of  the  red  men  against  the  white  was  made  and  failed. 

1765.         FRICTION   WITH   THE   AMERICAN   COLONISTS.  79 

The  famous  conspiracy  of  Pontiac  was  the  desperate  at- 
tempt of  the  Indian  allies  of  France  to  annihilate  the 
colonists  by  a  concerted  attack  of  a  vast  union  of  tribes. 
The  conspiracy  failed  after  a  bloody  war  that  lasted  for 
nearly  two  years.  Pontiac,  the  Indian  chief  who  had  helped 
to  destroy  Braddock,  and  who  had  dreamed  that  all  the 
English  might  as  easily  be  destroyed,  was  defeated  and 
killed;  his  league  was  dissipated,  and  the  power  of  the 
red  men  as  a  united  force  broken  for  good.  Under  such 
conditions  of  immunity  from  long-standing  and  pressing 
perils,  due  in  the  main  to  the  triumph  of  British  arms, 
the  colonists  might  very  well  have  been  expected  to  regard 
with  especial  favor  their  association  with  England.  If 
there  had  been  differences  between  the  two  countries  for 
long  enough,  no  moment  could  have  been  apter  for  the 
adoption  of  a  policy  calculated  to  lessen  and  ultimately  to 
abolish  those  differences  than  the  moment  when  the  wearv 
and  wearing  Seven  Years'  War  came  to  its  close.  A  far- 
seeing  monarch,  advised  and  encouraged  by  far-seeing 
statesmen,  might  have  soldered  close  the  seeming  impossi- 
bilities and  made  them  kiss.  Had  the  throne  even  been 
filled  by  a  sovereign  slightly  less  stubborn,  had  the  throne 
been  surrounded  by  servants  slightly  less  bigoted,  the 
arrogant  patronage  of  the  one  part  and  the  aggressive 
protestation  of  the  other  part  might  have  been  judiciously 
softened  into  a  relationship  wisely  paternal  and  loyally 
filial.  The  advantage  of  an  enduring  union  between  the 
mother  country  and  her  colonies  was  obvious  to  any 
reasonable  observer.  A  common  blood,  a  common  tongue. 
a  common  pride  of  race  and  common  interests  should  have 
kept  them  together.  But  the  relations  were  not  amicable. 
The  colonies  were  peopled  by  men  who  were  proud  indeed 
of  being  Englishmen,  but  by  reason  of  that  very  pride 
were  jealous  of  any  domination,  even  at  the  hands  of  Eng- 
lishmen. The  mother  country,  on  the  other  hand,  re- 
garded the  colonies,  won  with  English  hands  and  watered 
with  English  blood,  as  being  no  less  portion  and  parcel  of 
English  soil  because  three  thousand  miles  of  stormy  ocean 
lay  between  the  port  upon  the  Severn  and  the  port  upon 

80  A  HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  xlvi. 

the  Charles  Kiver.  She  came  to  regard  as  mere  ingrati- 
tude those  assertions  of  independence  which  most  charac- 
teristicaiiy  proved  the  colonies  to  be  worthy  of  it  and  of 
her.  The  theory  of  the  absolute  dominion  of  England 
over  the  American  colonies  might  have  died  a  natural 
death,  a  harmonious  settlement  of  grievances  and  adjust- 
ment of  powers  might  have  knitted  the  two  peoples  to- 
gether in  an  enduring  league,  if  it  had  not  been  for  George 
the  Third. 

The  mind  of  George  the  Third  was  saturated  with  a  be- 
lief in  his  personal  importance;  the  heart  of  George  the 
Third  was  exalted  by  the  determination  to  play  a  domi- 
nating part  in  the  country  of  his  birth  and  the  history  of 
his  reign.  The  hostility  to  the  exercise  of  home  authority 
latent  in  the  colonies  irritated  the  King  like  a  personal 
affront.  To  resist  or  to  resent  the  authority  of  the  Govern- 
ment of  England  was  to  resist  and  to  resent  the  authority 
of  the  sovereign  who  was  determined  that  he  would  be  to 
all  intents  and  purposes  the  Government  of  England.  If 
the  relationship  between  England  and  America  had  been 
far  happier  than  George  found  it  at  the  time  of  his  acces- 
sion, it  probably  would  not  long  have  preserved  a  whole- 
some tenor.  But  the  relationship  was  by  no  means  happy. 
The  colonial  assemblies  were  for  the  most  part  at  logger- 
heads with  the  colonial  governors.  These  governors,  little 
viceroys  with  petty  courts,  extremely  proud  of  their  power 
and  self-conscious  in  their  authority,  generally  detested 
the  popular  assemblies  upon  whom  they  were  obliged  to 
depend  for  the  payment  of  their  salaries.  Their  dislike 
found  secret  expression  in  the  letters  which  it  was  the  duty 
and  the  pleasure  of  the  colonial  governors  to  address  to 
the  Home  Government.  The  system  of  colonial  adminis- 
tration in  England  was  as  simple  as  it  was  unsatisfactory. 
At  its  head  was  a  standing  committee  of  the  Privy  Council 
which  had  been  established  in  1675.  This  committee  was 
known  at  length  as  "  The  Lords  of  the  Committee  of  Trade 
and  Plantations,"  and  in  brief  and  more  generally  as  "  The 
Lords  of  Trade."  It  was  the  duty  of  the  colonial  governors 
to  make  lengthy  reports  to  the  Lords  of  Trade  on  the 


commercial  and  other  conditions  of  their  governorships. 
It  was  too  often  their  pleasure  to  supplement  these  State 
papers  with  lengthy  and  embittered  private  letters,  ad- 
dressed to  the  same  body,  making  the  very  most  and  worst 
of  the  difficulties  they  had  to  deal  with  in  their  work. 
The  colonies,  as  represented  in  these  semi-official  com- 
munications, were  turbulent,  contumacious,  discontented, 
disrespectful  to  viceregal  dignity,  rebellious  against  the 
authority  of  Great  Britain.  These  communications  in- 
formed the  minds  of  the  Lords  of  Trade,  who  in  their  turn 
influenced  those  who  were  responsible  for  the  conduct  of 
the  King's  Government.  Thus  a  vicious  system,  acting 
in  a  vicious  circle,  kept  alive  an  irritation  and  fostered  a 
friction  that  only  increased  with  the  increasing  years.  It 
had  always  been  the  worst  feature  of  England's  colonial 
policy  that  she  was  ever  ready  to  accept  with  too  little 
question  the  animadversions  of  the  governors  upon  the 
governed.  The  Lords  of  Trade  accepted  the  communica- 
tions of  the  colonial  governors  as  gospel  truth,  and  as 
gospel  truth  it  was  taken  in  its  turn  by  the  ministers  to 
whom  it  was  transmitted  and  by  the  monarch  to  whom 
they  carried  it.  The  general  public  were  as  ignorant  of 
and  as  indifferent  to  the  American  colonies  as  if  they  were 
situated  in  the  mountains  of  the  moon.  The  major  part  of 
the  small  minority  that  really  did  seek  or  desire  informa- 
tion about  America  gained  it  from  the  same  poisonous 
sources  that  inspired  the  Government,  and  based  their 
theories  of  colonial  reform  upon  the  peevish  epistles,  often 
mendacious  and  always  one-sided,  which  fed  the  intelli- 
gences of  the  Lords  of  Trade.  The  few  who  were  really 
well  informed,  who  had  something  like  as  accurate  an 
appreciation  of  the  colony  of  Massachusetts  as  they  had 
of  the  county  of  Middlesex,  were  powerless  to  counteract 
the  general  ignorance  and  the  more  particular  misconcep- 
tion. It  was  the  cherished  dream  of  authority  in  England 
to  bring  the  colonies  into  one  common  rule  under  one 
head  in  such  a  way  as  to  strengthen  their  military  force 
while  it  lessened  their  legislative  independence.  It  now 
seemed  as  if  with  the  right  King  and  the  right  Ministry 

82  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlvi. 

this  dream  might  become  a  reality.  In  George  the  Third 
and  in  George  Grenville  prerogative  seemed  to  have  found 
the  needed  instruments  to  subjugate  the  American 

Many  of  the  grievances  of  the  colonies  were  grave 
enough.  If  some  of  the  injuries  that  England  inflicted 
upon  her  great  dependency  seem  petty  in  the  enumeration^ 
a  number  of  small  causes  of  irritation  are  no  less  danger- 
ous to  peace  between  nations  than  some  great  injustice. 
But  lest  the  small  stings  should  not  be  enough,  the  Govern- 
ment was  resolved  that  the  great  injustice  should  not  be 
wanting.  The  colonists  resented  the  intermittent  tyranny 
and  the  persistent  truculence  of  the  most  part  of  the  royal 
governors.  The  colonists  resented  the  enforced  transporta- 
tion of  criminals.  The  colonists  resented  the  action  of 
Great  Britain  in  annulling  the  colonial  laws  made  to  keep 
out  slaves.  It  is  melancholy  to  reflect  that  the  curse  of 
slavery,  for  which  Englishmen  of  later  days  often  so  bit- 
terly and  so  rightly  reproached  America,  was  unhappily 
enforced  upon  a  country  struggling  to  be  rid  of  it  by  Eng- 
lishmen who  called  themselves  English  statesmen.  The 
colonists  resented  the  astonishing  restrictions  which  it 
pleased  the  mother  country  to  place,  in  what  she  believed  to 
be  her  own  interest,  upon  colonial  trade.  These  laws  com- 
manded that  all  trade  between  the  colonies  should  be  car- 
ried on  in  ships  built  in  England  or  the  colonies.  This 
barred  out  all  foreigners,  especially  the  Dutch,  then  the 
chief  carriers  for  Europe.  They  compelled  the  American 
farmer  to  send  his  products  across  the  ocean  to  England. 
They  forbade  the  exportation  of  sugar,  tobacco,  cotton, 
wool,  indigo,  ginger,  dyeing-woods  to  any  part  of  the 
world  except  to  England  or  some  English  colony.  They 
only  allowed  exportation  of  fish,  fur,  oil,  ashes,  and  lumber 
in  ships  built  in  England  or  the  colonies.  They  forced  the 
colonists  to  buy  all  their  European  goods  in  England  and 
bring  them  over  to  America  in  English  vessels.  They 
prohibited  the  colonial  manufacture  of  any  article  that 
could  be  manufactured  in  England.  They  harassed  and 
minimized  the  trade  between  one  colony  and  another.    No 


province  was  permitted  to  send  woollen  goods,  hats,  or 
ironware  to  another  province.  Some  of  the  regulations 
read  more  like  the  rules  of  some  Turkish  pashalik  than  the 
laws  framed  by  one  set  of  Englishmen  for  another  set  of 
Englishmen.  In  the  Maine  woods,  for  instance,  no  tree 
that  had  a  diameter  greater  than  two  feet  at  a  foot  above 
the  ground  could  be  cut  down,  except  to  make  a  mast  for 
some  ship  of  the  Ko3^al  Navy. 

Bad  and  bitter  as  these  laws  were  in  theory,  they  did 
not  for  long  enough  prove  to  be  so  bad  in  practice,  for  the 
simple  reason  that  they  were  very  easy  to  evade  and  not 
very  easy  to  enforce.  The  colonists  met  what  many 
of  them  regarded  as  an  elaborate  system  for  the  restriction 
of  colonial  trade  by  a  no  less  elaborate  system  of  smug- 
gling. Smuggling  was  eavsy  because  of  the  long  extent  of 
sea-coast.  Smuggling  was  lucrative,  as  few"  considered  it 
an  offence  to  evade  laws  that  were  generally  resented  as 
unfair.  When  the  Sugar  Act  of  1733  prohibited  the  im- 
portation of  sugar  and  molasses  from  the  French  West 
Indies  except  on  payment  of  a  prohibitory  duty,  the  New 
England  colonists,  who  did  a  thriving  trade  in  the  off- 
spring of  the  union  of  sugar  and  molasses,  rum,  found 
themselves  faced  by  a  serious  problem.  Should  they  accept 
the  Act  and  its  consequential  ruin  of  their  trade  or  ignore 
it,  and  by  resorting  to  smuggling  prosper  as  before  ?  With- 
out hesitation  they  decided  that  their  rights  as  English- 
men were  assailed  by  the  obnoxious  imposition,  and  they 
turned  to  smuggling  with  the  light  heart  that  is  conscious 
of  a  heavy  purse.  The  contraband  trade  was  brisk,  the 
contrabandists  cheerful,  and  so  long  as  England  made  no 
serious  attempt  to  put  into  operation  laws  that  the  genial 
and  business-like  smugglers  of  the  Atlantic  sea-coast  re- 
garded as  preposterous  nobody  complained,  and  interna- 
tional relations  were  cordial.  But  the  situation  was  not 
seen  with  so  bright  an  eye  by  the  British  merchant.  He 
witnessed  with  indignation  the  failure  of  the  attempt  to 
monopolize  the  commerce  of  the  colonies  to  his  own  ad- 
vantage, and  he  clamored  for  the  restoration  of  his  fat 
monopoly.    His  clamor  was  unheeded  while  the  great  war 

84  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlyl 

was  running  its  course.  But  with  the  end  of  the  war  and 
the  new  conditions  consequent  upon  the  advent  of  a  new 
King  with  a  brand-new  theory  of  kingship  and  prerogative, 
the  situation  began  to  change. 

The  colonial  policy  of  George  Grenville's  Administra- 
tion might  be  conveniently  considered  under  three  heads. 
The  Ministry  was  resolved,  in  the  first  place,  to  enforce 
Acts  of  Trade  which  smuggling  had  long  rendered  mean- 
ingless in  the  American  colonies.  The  Ministry  was  re- 
solved, in  the  second  place,  to  establish  a  permanent  gar- 
rison of  some  ten  thousand  men  in  America.  The  Ministry 
was  resolved,  in  the  third  place,  to  make  the  colonists  pay 
a  third  of  the  cost  of  keeping  up  this  garrison  by  a  direct 
taxation.  It  was  easy  enough  for  Grenville  to  formulate 
the  three  ministerial  purj^oses,  but  it  was  not  very  easy  to 
give  them  any  effect.  The  colonists  resented  and  the 
colonists  resisted  all  three  proposals.  If  they  were  tech- 
nically wrong  in  their  resentment  at  the  enforcement  of 
the  Acts  of  Trade,  they  were  reasonable  in  their  reluctance 
to  accept  the  proposed  garrison,  and  they  were  justified 
by  every  law  of  liberty  and  of  patriotism  in  resisting  with 
all  the  strength  at  their  command  the  proposed  scheme  of 

The  English  Government  began  its  task  by  a  rigorous 
attempt  to  enforce  the  Acts  of  Trade.  Grenville  had 
made  up  his  narrow  mind  that  the  colonies  should  be 
compelled  to  adhere  to  the  conditions  which  obliged  them 
to  trade  with  England  only  for  England's  principal  manu- 
factures. There  should  be  no  more  smuggling  from  Span- 
ish America,  no  more  smuggling  from  the  West  Indies. 
To  enforce  this  determination,  which  deprived  the  colo- 
nists at  a  blow  of  the  most  profitable  part  of  their  trade,  the 
Government  employed  certain  general  search  warrants, 
which,  if  strictly  legal  in  the  letter,  were  conceived  in  a 
spirit  highly  calculated  to  goad  a  proud  people  into  illegal 
defiance.  They  goaded  one  proud  man  into  active  protest. 
A  distinguished  servant  of  the  Government,  James  Otis, 
the  King's  Advocate,  resigned  his  office  in  order  that  he 
might  be  at  liberty  to  denounce  the  Writs  of  Assistance. 

1765.  JAMES  OTIS  AND   JOHN   ADAMS.  85 

Otis  may  have  been  technically  wrong  in  resisting  the 
Writs  of  Assistance,  but  it  can  scarcely  be  questioned  that 
as  a  philosophic  politician,  who  was  devoted  to  the  inter- 
ests of  his  countrymen,  he  was  ethically  in  the  right.  Otis 
was  thirty-six  years  old ;  he  was  known  to  his  compatriots 
as  a  graduate  of  Harvard,  an  able  lawyer,  a  zealous  student 
of  classical  literature,  and  an  author  of  repute  on  Latin 
prosody.  The  issue  of  the  Writs  of  Assistance  converted 
the  respected  and  respectable  public  servant  into  a  con- 
spicuous statesman  as  hotly  applauded  by  the  one  side  as 
he  was  execrated  by  the  other.  A  single  speech  lifted  him 
from  an  esteemed  obscurity  to  a  leading  place  among  the 
champions  of  colonial  rights  against  imperial  aggressions. 
The  assemblage  which  Otis  addressed,  which  Otis  domi- 
nated, was  forever  memorable  in  the  history  of  America. 
**'  Otis  was  a  flame  of  fire."  The  words  are  the  words  of 
one  who  was  a  young  man  vv^hen  Otis  spoke,  who  listened 
and  took  notes  as  the  words  fell  from  Otis's  lips.  "  With 
a  promptitude  of  classical  allusions,  a  depth  of  research,  a 
rapid  summary  of  historical  events  and  dates,  a  profusion 
of  legal  authorities,  a  prophetic  glance  of  his  eyes  into 
futurity,  and  a  rapid  torrent  of  tempestuous  eloquence,  he 
hurried  away  all  before  him.  Then  and  there  was  the  first 
scene  of  the  first  act  of  opposition  to  the  arbitrary  claims 
of  Great  Britain.  Then  and  there  the  child  Independence 
was  born.  Every  man  of  an  immense  crowded  audience 
appeared  to  me  to  go  away  as  I  did,  ready  to  take  up  arms 
against  Writs  of  Assistance." 

The  youth  who  took  notes  of  the  words  of  Otis,  and  who 
was  inspired  by  them  with  the  desire  to  rise  and  mutiny, 
was  destined  to  play  even  a  greater  part  in  the  history  of 
his  country.  If  Otis  was  one  of  the  first  to  assert  actively, 
by  deed  as  well  as  by  word,  the  determination  of  the 
colonies  to  oppose  and,  if  needs  were,  to  defy  the  domina- 
tion of  England,  John  Adams  was  the  first  to  applaud  his 
action  and  to  appreciate  its  importance.  In  1763  John 
Adams  was  no  more  than  a  promising  young  lawyer  who 
had  struggled  from  poverty  and  hardship  to  regard  and 
authority,  and  who  had  wrested  from  iron  Fortune  a  great 

86  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  xlvi 

deal  of  learning  if  very  little  of  worldly  wealth.  Short 
of  stature,  sanguine  of  temperament,  the  ruddy,  stubborn, 
passionate  small  man  had  fought  his  way  step  by  step 
from  the  most  modest  if  not  the  most  humble  beginnings, 
as  zealously  as  if  he  had  known  of  the  fame  that  was  yet 
to  be  his  and  the  honor  that  he  was  to  give  to  his  name  and 
hand  down  to  a  long  line  of  honorable  descendants.  If  the 
ministers  who  weakly  encouraged  or  meanly  obeyed  King 
George  in  his  frenzy  against  America  could  have  under- 
stood even  dimly  the  temper  of  a  race  that  was  rich  in 
sons  of  whom  John  Adams  was  but  one  and  not  the  most 
illustrious  even  to  them,  there  must  have  come  dimly  some 
consciousness  of  the  forces  they  had  to  encounter,  and  the 
peril  of  their  policy.  But  the  Ministry  knew  nothing  of 
Adams,  and  knew  only  of  Otis  as  a  mutinous  and  meddle- 
some official.  Otis  and  his  protest  signified  nothing  to 
them,  and  they  would  have  smiled  to  learn  that  young  Mr. 
Adams,  the  lawyer,  believed  that  American  independence 
was  born  when  Mr.  Otis's  oration  against  Writs  of  Assist- 
ance breathed  into  the  colonies  the  breath  of  life  that  was 
to  make  them  a  nation. 

If  Otis  voiced  and  Adams  echoed  the  feelings  of  the 
colonists  against  Writs  of  Assistance  and  the  enforcement 
of  the  Acts  of  Trade,  they  might  no  less  eloquently  have 
interpreted  the  general  irritation  at  the  proposed  estab- 
lishment of  a  permanent  garrison  on  the  continent.  The 
colonists  saw  no  need  of  such  a  garrison  so  late  in  the  day. 
When  the  Frenchmen  held  the  field,  when  the  red  man  was 
on  the  war  path,  then  indeed  the  presence  of  more  British 
soldiers  might  have  become  welcome.  But  the  flag  of 
France  no  longer  floated  over  strong  places,  no  longer  flut- 
tered at  the  head  of  invasion.  The  strength  of  the  savage 
was  crippled  if  not  crushed.  The  colonists  had  nothing 
to  fear  from  the  one  and  little  to  fear  from  the  other  foe. 
They  thought  that  they  had  much  to  fear  from  the  pres- 
ence of  a  British  garrison  of  ten  thousand  men.  This 
British  garrison  might,  on  occasion,  be  used  not  in  defence 
of  their  liberties,  but  in  diminution  of  their  liberties.  The 
irritation  against  the  proposed  garrison  might  have  smoul- 


dered  out  if  it  had  not  been  fanned  into  a  leaping  flame 
by  the  means  proposed  for  the  maintenance  of  the  garrison. 
Grenville  proposed  to  raise  one-third  of  the  cost  of  support 
from  the  colonies  by  taxation.  No  proposal  could  have 
been  better  calculated  to  goad  every  colony  and  every  col- 
onist into  resistance,  and  to  fuse  the  scattered  elements  of 
resistance  into  a  solid  whole.  More  than  two  generations 
earlier  both  Massachusetts  and  New  York  had  formally 
denied  the  right  of  the  Home  Government  to  levy  any  tax 
upon  the  American  colonies.  The  colonies  were  not  rep- 
resented at  Westminster — could  not,  under  the  conditions, 
be  represented  at  Westminster.  The  theory  that  there 
should  be  no  taxation  without  representation  was  as  dear 
to  the  American  for  America  as  it  was  dear  to  the  Eng- 
lishman for  England.  Successive  English  Governments, 
forced  in  times  of  financial  pressure  wistfully  to  eye 
American  prosperity,  had  dreamed,  and  only  dreamed,  of 
raising  money  by  taxing  the  well-to-do  colonies.  It  was  re- 
served to  the  Government  headed  by  Grenville,  in  its  mad- 
ness, to  attempt  to  make  the  dream  a  reality.  It  is  true 
that  even  Grenville  did  not  propose,  did  not  venture  to 
suggest  that  the  American  colonies  should  be  taxed  for 
the  direct  benefit  of  the  English  Government.  He  brought 
forward  his  scheme  of  taxation  as  a  benefit  to  America, 
as  a  contribution  to  the  expense  of  keeping  up  a  garrison 
that  was  only  established  in  the  interests  of  America  and 
for  America's  welfare.  In  this  spirit  of  benevolence,  and 
with  apparent  confidence  of  success,  Grenville  brought  for- 
ward his  famous  Stamp  Act. 

There  were  statesmen  in  England  who  saw  with  scarcely 
less  indignation  than  the  Americans  themselves,  and  with 
even  more  dismay,  the  unfolding  of  the  colonial  policy 
of  the  Government.  These  protested  against  the  intoler- 
able weight  of  the  duties  imposed,  and  arraigned  the  folly 
which,  by  compelling  these  duties  to  be  paid  in  specie, 
drained  away  the  little  ready  money  remaining  in  the 
colonies,  "  as  though  the  best  way  to  cure  an  emaciated 
body,  whose  juices  happened  to  be  tainted,  was  to  leave  it 
no  juices  at  all."    They  assailed  the  injustice  that  refused 

88  A   HISTORY   OF   THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlvl 

to  recognize  as  legal  tender  any  paper  bills  of  credit  issued 
by  the  colonies.  Politicians,  guided  by  the  intelligence 
and  the  inspiration  of  Burke,  applauded  the  Americans 
for  their  firmness  in  resolving  to  subsist  to  the  utmost  of 
their  power  upon  their  own  productions  and  manufactures. 
They  urged  that  it  could  not  be  expected  that  the  colonists, 
merely  out  of  a  compliment  to  the  mother  country,  should 
submit  to  perish  for  thirst  with  water  in  their  own  wells. 
And  these  clear-sighted  politicians  saw  plainly  enough  that 
such  blows  as  the  Government  were  aiming  at  America 
must  in  the  end  recoil  upon  Great  Britain  herself.  They 
appreciated  the  injury  that  must  be  done  to  British  com- 
merce by  even  a  temporary  interruption  of  the  intercourse 
between  the  two  countries.  But  bad  as  the  restrictive 
measures  were  in  their  immediate,  as  well  as  in  their  ulti- 
mate consequences,  worse  remained  behind.  The  proposed 
Stamp  Act  scarcely  shocked  Otis  or  Adams  more  directly 
and  cruelly  than  it  shocked  the  soundest  and  sanest  think- 
ers on  the  other  side  of  the  Atlantic.  Words  which  cer- 
tainly expressed  the  thoughts  of  Burke  declared  that  the 
approval,  even  with  opposition,  given  to  such  a  measure 
as  the  Stamp  Act,  the  bare  proposal  of  which  had  given 
so  much  offence,  argued  such  a  want  of  reflection  as  could 
scarcely  be  paralleled  in  the  public  councils  of  any  country. 
The  King's  speech  at  the  opening  of  Parliament  on 
January  10,  1765,  gave  unmistakable  evidence  of  the 
temper  of  the  monarch  and  of  the  Ministry.  It  formally 
expressed  its  reliance  on  the  wisdom  and  firmness  of  Par- 
liament in  promoting  the  proper  respect  and  obedience  due 
to  the  legislative  authority  of  Great  Britain.  The  Govern- 
ment was  resolved  to  be  what  it  considered  firm,  and  it  un- 
doubtedly believed  that  a  proper  show  of  firmness  would 
easily  overbear  any  opposition  that  the  colonists  might 
make  to  the  proposed  measure.  The  Stamp  Act  was  in- 
troduced, the  Stamp  Act  w^as  debated  upon;  in  due  time 
the  Stamp  Act  passed  through  both  Houses,  and  in  con- 
sequence of  the  ill  health  of  the  King  received  the  royal 
assent  by  commission  on  March  22,  1765.  The  first  foolish 
challenge  to  American  loyalty  was  formally  made,  and 

1765.  SAMUEL   ADAMS.  89 

America  was  not  slow  to  accept  it.  It  may  be  admitted  that 
in  itself  the  Stamp  Act  was  not  a  conspicuously  unfair  or 
even  a  conspicuous^  unreasonable  measure.  It  was  a 
legitimate  and  perfectly  fair  way  of  raising  money  from 
a  taxable  people.  It  was  neither  legitimate  nor  fair  when 
imposed  upon  unrepresented  colonists.  But  if  it  had  been 
the  sanest  and  most  statesmanlike  scheme  for  raising 
money  ever  conceived  by  a  financier,  it  would  have  de- 
served and  would  have  received  no  less  hostility  from  the 
American  people.  The  principle  involved  was  everything. 
To  admit  in  any  degree  the  right  of  Great  Britain  to  im- 
pose at  her  pleasure  a  tax  upon  the  colonists  was  to  sur- 
render in  ignominy  the  privileges  and  to  betray  the  duties 
of  free  men.  Any  expectations  of  colonial  protest  that  the 
Ministry  may  have  allowed  themselves  to  entertain  were 
more  than  fulfilled.  Colony  after  colony,  great  town  after 
great  town,  great  man  after  great  man,  made  haste  to  pro- 
test with  an  emphasis  that  should  have  been  significant 
against  the  new  measure.  Boston  led  the  way.  Boston's 
most  distinguished  citizen,  Boston's  most  respected  son 
was  the  voice  not  merely  of  his  town,  not  merely  of  his 
State,  but  of  the  colonial  continent.  Ten  years  later  the 
name  of  Samuel  Adams  was  known,  hated,  and  honored 
on  the  English  side  of  the  Atlantic. 

Samuel  Adams  was  one  of  those  men  whom  Nature 
forges  to  be  the  instruments  of  revolution.  His  three-and- 
forty  years  had  taught  him  much:  the  value  of  silence, 
the  knowledge  of  men,  the  desire  to  change  the  world  and 
the  patience  to  bide  his  time.  A  few  generations  earlier 
he  might  have  made  a  right-hand  man  to  Cromwell  and 
held  a  place  in  the  heart  of  Hampden.  On  the  very 
threshold  of  his  manhood,  when  receiving  his  degree  of 
Master  of  Arts  at  Plarvard,  he  asserted  his  defiant  democ- 
racy in  a  dissertation  on  the  right  of  the  people  of  a  com- 
monwealth to  combine  against  injustice  on  the  part  of  the 
head  of  the  State.  The  badly  dressed  man  with  the  grave 
firm  face  of  a  Pilgrim  Father  was  as  ready  and  as  resolute 
to  oppose  King  George  as  any  Pym  or  Vane  had  been  ready 
and  resolute  to  oppose  Charles  Stuart.     He  had  at  one 

00  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlti. 

time  devoted  himself  to  a  commercial  career,  with  no  great 
success.  He  was  made  for  a  greater  game  than  commerce ; 
he  had  the  temper  and  he  gained  the  training  for  a  public 
life,  and  the  hour  when  it  came  found  that  the  man  was 
ready.  When  the  citizens  of  Boston  met  to  protest  against 
the  Stamp  Act  Samuel  Adams  framed  the  first  resolutions 
that  denied  to  the  Parliament  of  Great  Britain  the  right 
to  impose  taxes  upon  her  colonies. 

If  Massachusetts  was  the  first  to  protest  with  no  uncer- 
tain voice   against  the   Stamp   Act,   other  colonies  were 
prompt  to  follow  her  example,  and  to  prove  that  they  pos- 
sessed sons  no  less  patriotic.     Virginia  was  as  vehement 
and   as   vigorous   in   opposition   as   Massachusetts.      One 
speech  in  the  Virginia  House  of  Burgesses  made  the  name 
of  Patrick  Henry  famous.     Patrick  Henry  was  a  young 
man  who  tried  many  things  and  failed  in  them  before  he 
found  in  the  practice  of  the  law  the  appointed  task  for 
his  rare  gifts  of  reasoning  and  of  eloquence.    A  speech  in 
Hanover  Court  House  in  defence  of  the  people  against  a 
suit  of  the  parish  clergy  gave  him  sudden  fame.    As  grave 
of  face  as  Samuel  Adams,  as  careless  of  his  attire,  tall  and 
lean,  stamped  with  the  seal  of  the  speaker  and  the  thinker, 
Patrick  Henry  at  nine-and-twenty  was  already  a  very  dif- 
ferent man  from  the  youth  who  five  years  earlier  seemed 
destined  to  be  but  a  Jack  of  all  trades  and  master  of  none, 
an   unsuccessful   trader,   an   unsuccessful   farmer,   whose 
chief  accomplishments  in  life  were  hunting  and  fishing, 
dancing  and  riding.     The  debate  on  the  Stamp  Act  gave 
him  a  great  opportunity.     As  he  addressed  his  words  of 
warning  to  the  stubborn  sovereign  across  the  sea  his  pas- 
sion seemed  to  get  the  better  of  his  prudence  and  to  tempt 
him  into  menace.     "  Caesar,"  he  said,  "  had  his  Brutus, 
Charles  the  First  his  Cromwell."    He  was  going  on  to  say 
"  and   George  the  Third,"  when  he  was  interrupted  by 
a,ngry  cries  of  "  Treason !"  from  the  loyalists  among  his 
hearers.     Patrick  Henry  waited  until  the  noise  subsided, 
and   then   quietly   completed  his   sentence,   "  George   the 
Third  may  profit  by  their  example.     If  this  be  treason, 
make  the  most  of  it."     The  words  were  not  treasonable. 

1765.  THE   OPPOSITION   TO   THE   STAMP  ACT.  91 

but  they  were  revolutionary.  They  served  to  carry  the 
name  of  Patrick  Henry  to  every  corner  of  the  continent 
and  across  the  Atlantic.  They  made  him  a  hero  and  idol 
in  the  eyes  of  the  colonists;  they  made  him  a  rebel  in  the 
eyes  of  the  Court  at  St.  James's. 

Massachusetts  had  set  an  example  which  Virginia  had 
bettered;  Massachusetts  was  now  to  better  Virginia.  If 
Virginia,  prompted  by  Patrick  Henry,  declared  that  she 
alone  had  the  right  to  tax  her  own  citizens,  Massachusetts, 
inspired  by  James  Otis,  summoned  a  congress  of  deputies 
from  all  the  colonial  assemblies  to  meet  in  common  con- 
sultation upon  the  common  danger.  This  congress,  the 
first  but  not  the  last,  memorable  but  not  most  memorable, 
met  in  Xew  York  in  the  early  November  of  1765.  Xine 
colonies  were  represented  at  its  table — Massachusetts, 
South  Carolina,  Pennsylvania,  Rhode  Island,  Connecticut, 
Delaware,  Maryland,  New  Jersey,  and  New  York.  The 
congress  passed  a  series  of  resolutions,  as  firm  in  their 
purpose  as  moderate  in  their  language,  putting  forward 
the  grievances  and  asserting  the  rights  of  the  colonies. 

But  the  protests  against  the  Stamp  Act  were  not  limited 
to  eloquent  orations  or  formal  resolutions.  Deeds,  as  well 
as  words,  made  plain  the  purpose  of  the  American  people. 
Riots  broke  out  in  colony  after  colony ;  the  most  and  worst 
in  Massachusetts.  Boston  blazed  into  open  revolt  against 
authority.  There  were  two  Government  officials  in  Bos- 
ton who  were  especially  unpopular  with  the  mob — Andrew 
Oliver,  the  newly  appointed  collector  of  the  stamp  taxes, 
and  Chief  Justice  Hutchinson.  A  scarecrow  puppet,  in- 
tended to  represent  the  obnoxious  Oliver,  was  publicly 
hung  upon  a  tree  by  the  mob,  then  cut  down,  triumphantly 
paraded  through  the  city  to  Oliver's  door,  and  there  set 
on  fire.  When  the  sham  Oliver  was  ashes  the  crowd  broke 
into  and  ransacked  his  house,  after  which  it  did  the  same 
turn  to  the  house  of  Chief  Justice  Hutchinson.  Oliver 
and  Hutchinson  escaped  unhurt,  but  all  their  property 
went  through  their  broken  windows  and  lay  in  ruin  upon 
the  Boston  streets..  Hutchinson  was  busy  upon  a  History 
of  Massachusetts;  the  manuscript  shared  the  fate  of  its 

92  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlvi. 

author's  chairs  and  tables,  and  went  with  them  out  into 
the  gutter.  It  was  picked  up,  preserved,  and  exists  to 
this  day,  its  pages  blackened  with  the  Boston  mud.  Many 
jiapers  and  records  of  the  province  which  Hutchinson  had 
in  his  care  for  the  purpose  of  his  history  were  irretrieva- 
blv  lost. 

The  next  day  the  judges  and  the  bar,  assembled  in  their 
robes  at  the  Boston  Court  House,  were  startled  by  the 
apparition  of  a  haggard  man  in  disordered  attire,  whom 
they  might  have  been  pardoned  for  failing  to  recognize  as 
their  familiar  chief  justice.  In  a  voice  broken  with  emotion 
Hutchinson  apologized  to  the  court  for  the  appearance  in 
which  he  presented  himself  before  it.  He  and  his  family 
were  destitute ;  he  himself  had  no  other  shirt  and  no  other 
clothes  than  those  he  was  at  that  moment  wearing.  Part 
even  of  this  poor  attire  he  had  been  obliged  to  borrow. 
Almost  in  rags,  almost  in  tears,  he  solemnly  called  his 
Maker  to  witness  that  he  was  innocent  of  the  charges  that 
had  made  him  obnoxious  to  the  fury  of  the  populace.  He 
swore  that  he  never,  either  directly  or  indirectly,  aided, 
assisted,  or  supported,  or  in  the  least  promoted  or  encour- 
aged the  Stamp  Act,  but  on.  the  contrary  did  all  in  his 
power,  and  strove  as  much  as  in  him  lay,  to  prevent  it. 
TJie  court  listened  to  him  in  melancholy  silence  and  then 
adjourned,  "  on  account  of  the  riotous  disorders  of  the  pre- 
vious night  and  universal  confusion  of  the  town,"  to  a 
day  nearly  two  months  later. 

It  was  a  thankless  privilege  to  be  a  stamp  officer  in  those 
stormy  hours.  Most  of  the  stamp  officers  were  forced  to 
resign  under  pressure  which  they  might  well  be  excused 
for  finding  sufficiently  cogent.  In  order  to  make  the  new 
law  a  dead  letter  the  colonists  resolved  that  while  it  was 
in  force  they  would  avoid  using  stamps  by  substituting 
arbitration  for  any  kind  of  legal  procedure.  With  a 
people  in  this  temper,  there  were  only  two  things  to  be 
done;  to  meet  their  wishes,  or  to  annihilate  their  opposi- 
tion. It  is  possible  that  Grenville  might  have  preferred 
to  attempt  the  second  alternative,  but  by  this  time  Gren- 
vi  lie's  power  was  at  an  end. 




The  friction  between  Grenville  and  the  King  was  rap- 
idly becoming  unbearable  to  George,  if  not  to  his  minister. 
Georo^e  was  resolved  to  be  rid  of  his  intolerable  tyrant  at 
the  cost  of  almost  any  concession.  He  was  now  fully  as 
eager  to  welcome  Pitt  back  to  office  as  he  had  once  been 
hot  to  drive  him  out  of  it.  Again  Cumberland  was  called 
in;  again  Cumberland  approached  Pitt;  again  Pitt's  will- 
ingness to  resume  the  seals  was  overborne  by  the  stubborn- 
ness of  Temple.  The  King  was  in  despair.  He  would 
not  endure  Grenville  and  Grenville's  bullying  sermons 
any  longer,  and  yet  it  was  hard  indeed  to  find  any  one  who 
could  take  Grenvi lie's  place  with  any  chance  of  carrying 
on  Grenville's  work.  Cumberland  had  a  suggestion  to 
make,  a  desperate  remedy  for  a  desperate  case.  If  Pitt 
and  the  old  Whigs  were  denied  to  the  King,  why  should 
not  the  King  try  the  new  Whigs  and  Rockingham? 

The  old  Whig  party,  as  it  had  lived  and  ruled  so  long, 
had  practically  ceased  to  exist.  So  much  the  King  had 
accomplished.  Saint  George  of  Hanover  had  struck  at 
the  dragon  only  to  find  that,  like  the  monster  in  the  classi- 
cal fable,  it  took  new  form  and  fresh  vitality  beneath  his 
strokes.  There  was  a  Whig  party  that  was  not  essentially 
the  party  of  Pitt,  a  party  which  was  recruiting  its  ranks 
with  earnest,  thoughtful,  high-minded,  honorable  men  to 
whom  the  principles  or  want  of  principles  which  permitted 
the  old  Whig  dominion  were  as  intolerable  as  they  appear 
to  a  statesman  of  to-day.  At  the  head  of  this  new  develop- 
ment of  A\Tiig  activity  was  the  man  to  whom  Cumberland 
now  turned  in  the  hour  of  the  King's  trial,  Charles  Wat- 
son Wentworth,  Marquis  of  Rockingham. 

94  A   HISTORY  OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlvii. 

Lord  Rockingham  was  one  of  those  ornaments  of  the 
English  senate  for  the  benefit  of  whose  biographers  the 
adjective  amiable  seems  especially  to  have  been  invented. 
Although  the  master  of  a  large  fortune,  while  he  was  still 
a  boy  of  twenty  he  was  deservedly  noted  for  the  gravity 
and  stillness  of  his  youth,  and  during  a  political  career 
of  one-and-thirty  years,  if  he  showed  neither  commanding 
eloquence  nor  commanding  statesmanship,  he  did  honor 
to  the  Whig  party  by  his  sincere  patriotism  and  irreproach- 
able uprightness  of  character.  If  heaven  had  denied  Rock- 
ingham the  resplendent  gifts  that  immortalize  a  Chatham, 
it  had  given  him  in  full  measure  of  the  virtues  of  patri- 
otism, honesty,  integrity,  and  zeal.  The  purity  of  his  life, 
the  probity  of  his  actions,  and  the  excellence  of  all  his 
public  purposes,  commended  him  to  the  affectionate  re- 
gard of  all  w^ho  held  that  morality  was  more  essential  to 
a  statesman  than  eloquence,  and  that  it  was  better  to  fail 
with  such  a  man  than  to  succeed  with  those  to  whom,  for 
the  most  part,  the  successes  of  that  day  were  given.  Two 
years  before,  in  1763,  his  dislike  for  the  policy  of  Lord 
Bute  had  driven  him  to  resign  his  small  office  as  Lord  of 
the  Bedchamber,  and  he  carried  his  scrupulousness  so  far 
as  to  resign  at  the  same  time  his  Lord-Lieutenantcy  of 

To  the  delight  of  the  Duke  of  Cumberland,  and  to  the 
delight  of  the  King,  Rockingham  consented  to  form  a 
Ministry.  With  the  best  will  in  the  world  Rockingham 
could  not  make  his  Ministry  very  commanding.  It  was 
but  a  makeshift,  and  not  a  very  brilliant  makeshift,  but 
at  least  it  served  to  get  rid  of  Grenville  and  of  Grenville's 
harangues.  So  long  as  Grenville  was  unable  to  terrorize 
the  royal  closet  with  reproaches  and  reproofs  addressed  to 
the  King,  and  with  menaces  aimed  at  Bute,  George  was 
quite  willing  to  see  Newcastle  intrusted  with  the  Privy 
Seal,  and  Conway  made  Secretary  of  State  for  one  de- 
partment, and  the  Duke  of  Grafton  for  the  other.  But 
the  Ministry  which  the  King  accepted  because  he  could 
get  nothing  better,  and  because  he  would  have  welcomed 
something  much  worse  so  long  as  it  delivered  him  from 

1765.  THE  COMING   OF   EDMUND   BURKE.  95 

Grenville — the  Ministry  that  provoked  the  derisive  pity 
of  most  of  its  critics  was  destined  to  attain  an  honorable 
immortality.  The  heterogeneous  group  of  men  who  called 
themselves  or  were  called,  who  believed  themselves  or 
were  believed  to  be  Whigs,  had  obtained  one  recruit 
whose  name  was  yet  to  make  the  cause  he  served 
illustrious.  Lord  Eockingham  had  many  claims  to  the 
regard  of  his  contemporaries;  undoubtedly  his  greatest 
claim  to  the  regard  of  posterity  lies  in  the  intelligence 
which  enabled  him  to  discern  the  rising  genius  of  a  young 
writer,  and  the  wisdom  which  found  a  place  by  his  side 
and  a  seat  in  the  House  of  Commons  for  Edmund  Burke. 

The  history  of  a  nation  is  often  largely  the  history  of 
certain  famous  men.  Great  epochs,  producing  great  lead- 
ers, make  those  leaders  essentially  the  expression  of  certain 
phases  of  the  thought  of  their  age.  The  life  of  Walpole 
is  the  life  of  the  England  of  his  time  because  he  was  so 
intimately  bound  up  with  the  great  movement  which 
ended  by  setting  Parliamentary  government  free  from  the 
possible  dominion  of  the  sovereign.  The  life  of  Chatham, 
the  life  of  Pitt,  the  life  of  Fox,  each  in  its  turn  is  a  sum- 
mary of  the  history  of  England  during  the  time  in  which 
they  helped  to  guide  its  destinies.  But  to  some  men,  men 
possessing  in  an  exceptional  degree  the  love  for  humanity 
and  the  longing  for  progress,  this  power  of  representing 
in  their  lives  the  sum  and  purpose  of  their  age  is  markedly 
characteristic.  Just  as  Mirabeau,  until  he  died,  practically 
represented  the  French  Eevolution,  so  certain  English 
statesmen  have  from  time  to  time  been  representative  of 
the  best  life,  the  best  thought,  the  best  purposes,  desires, 
and  ambitions  of  the  country  for  whose  sake  they  played 
their  parts.  Of  no  man  can  this  theory  be  said  to  be  more 
happily  true  than  of  Edmund  Burke. 

It  would  scarcely  be  exaggeration  to  say  that  the  history 
of  England  during  the  middle  third  of  the  eighteenth 
century  is  largely  the  history  of  the  career  of  Edmund 
Burke.  From  the  moment  when  Burke  entered  upon  po- 
litical life  to  the  close  of  his  great  career,  his  name  was 
associated  with  every  event  of  importance,  his  voice  raised 

9G  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  xlvii. 

on  one  side  or  the  other  of  every  question  that  concerned 
the  welfare  of  the  English  people  and  the  English  Consti- 
tution. As  much  as  this,  however,  might  be  said  of  more 
than  one  actor  in  the  political  history  of  the  period  cov- 
ered by  Burke's  public  life.  But  the  influence  which  Burke 
exercised  upon  his  time,  the  force  he  brought  to  bear  upon 
his  political  generation,  were  a  greater  influence  and  a 
stronger  force  than  that  directed  by  any  other  statesman 
of  the  age.  Whether  for  good  or  for  evil,  according  to  the 
standards  by  which  his  critics  may  judge  him,  Burke 
swayed  the  minds  of  masses  of  his  countrymen  to  a  degree 
that  was  unequalled  among  his  contemporaries.  With  the 
two  great  events  of  the  century — the  revolt  of  the  Ameri- 
can colonies  and  the  French  Revolution — his  name  was 
the  most  intimately  associated,  his  influence  the  most 
potent.  With  what  in  their  degree  must  be  called  the 
minor  events  of  the  reign — with  the  trial  of  Wilkes,  with 
the  trial  of  Warren  Hastings — he  was  no  less  intimately 
associated,  and  in  each  case  his  association  has  been  the 
most  important  feature  of  the  event.  Where  he  was  right 
as  where  he  was  wrong,  and  whether  he  was  right  or 
whether  he  was  wrong,  he  was  always  the  most  interesting, 
always  the  most  commanding  figure  in  the  epoch-making 
political  controversies  of  his  day.  Grenville  wrote  of  him 
finely,  many  years  after  his  death,  that  he  was  in  the 
political  world  what  Shakespeare  was  in  the  moral  world. 
Burke  entered  political  life,  or  entered  active  political 
life,  when  he  was  returned  to  Parliament  in  the  December 
of  1765.  Up  to  that  time  his  life  had  been  largely  un- 
eventful; much  of  it  must  be  called  as  far  as  we  are  con- 
cerned eventless,  for  of  a  great  gap  of  his  life,  a  gap  of 
no  less  than  nine  years,  we  know,  if  not  absolutely  nothing, 
certainly  next  to  nothing.  It  is  not  even  quite  certain 
where  or  when  he  was  born.  The  most  approved  account 
is  that  he  was  born  in  Dublin  on  January  12,  1729,  reck- 
oning according  to  the  new  style.  .  The  place  of  his  birth 
is  still  pointed  out  to  the  curious  in  Dublin:  one  of  the 
many  modest  houses  that  line  the  left  bank  of  the  Liffey. 
His  family  was  supposed  to  stem  from  Limerick,  from 

1729-59.  BURKE'S  EARLY    LIFE.  97 

namesakes  who  spelled  their  name  differently  as  Bonrke. 
His  mother's  family  were  Catholic ;  Burke's  mother  always 
remained  stanch  to  her  native  faith,  and,  though  Burke 
and  his  brothers  were  brought  up  as  the  Protestant  sons 
of  a  Protestant  father,  the  influence  of  his  mother  must 
have  counted  for  much  in  creating  that  tender  and  gener- 
ous sympathy  towards  a  proscribed  creed  which  is  one  of 
the  noblest  characteristics  of  Burke's  career. 

Burke's  earliest  and  in  a  sense  his  best  education  was 
received  between  his  twelfth  and  fourteenth  years,  in  the 
school  of  a  Yorkshire  Quaker  named  Abraham  Shackleton, 
who  kept  a  school  at  Ballitore.  Burke  used  often  to  de- 
clare in  later  years  that  he  owed  everything  he  had  gained 
in  life  to  the  teaching  and  the  example  of  those  two  years 
with  Abraham  Shackleton.  The  affectionate  regard  which 
Burke  felt  for  his  schoolmaster,  an  affectionate  regard 
which  endured  until  Shackleton's  death,  thirty  years  later, 
in  1771,  he  felt  also  for  his  schoolmaster's  son,  Eichard 
Shackleton.  Most  of  what  we  know  of  Burke's  life  in 
Trinity  College  from  1743  to  1748  we  gather  from  his 
letters  to  Richard  Shackleton,  letters  of  absorbing  interest 
to  any  student  of  the  growth  of  a  great  mind.  Less  viva- 
cious, less  brilliant  than  the  boyish  letters  of  Goethe,  they 
resemble  them  in  the  eager  thirst  they  display  for  knowl- 
edge of  all  kinds,  in  their  passionate  enthusiasm  for  all 
the  rich  varieties  of  human  knowledge,  in  their  restless 
experiments  in  all  directions.  In  those  younger  days  Burke 
thought  himself,  as  every  generous  and  ambitious  youth 
must  needs  think  himself,  a  poet,  and  many  verses  were 
forwarded  to  the  faithful  friend,  to  lighten  the  effect  of 
serious  theological  discussions  and  elaborate  comparisons 
of  classical  authors. 

Dissensions  with  his  father  and  a  determination  to  study 
for  the  bar  sent  Burke  to  England  in  the  early  part  of 
1750,  and  there  for  nine  long  years  he  practically  disap- 
pears from  our  knowledge.  All  we  know  is  that  he  studied 
law,  but  that,  like  many  another  law  student,  he  gave  more 
time  and  thought  to  literature  than  to  his  legal  studies; 
that  this  action  deepened  the  hostility  of  his  father,  who 

VOL.  ni. — 4 

98  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlvii. 

reduced  Burke's  allowance  to  a  pittance,  and  that  his  daily 
need  as  well  as  his  desire  drove  Burke  to  seek  his  livelihood 
in  letters. 

He  seems  to  have  had  a  hard  fight  for  it.  The  glimpses 
we  get  of  him  during  that  period  of  youthful  struggle 
show  him  as  an  ardent  student  of  books,  but  a  no  less 
ardent  student  of  life,  not  merely  in  the  streets  and  clubs 
and  theatres  of  tlie  great  city,  but  in  the  seclusion  of  quiet 
country  villages  and  the  highways  and  byways  of  rural 
England.  Romance  has  not  failed  to  endeavor  to  illumi- 
nate with  her  prismatic  lantern  the  darkness  of  those  nine 
mysterious  years.  A  vivid  fancy  has  been  pleased  to  pic- 
ture Burke  as  one  of  the  many  lovers  of  the  marvellous 
^largaret  Wothngton,  as  a  competitor  for  the  chair  of 
]\roral  Philosophy  at  Glasgow,  as  a  convert  to  the  Catholic 
faith,  and,  perhaps  most  remarkable  of  all  these  lively 
legends,  as  a  traveller  in  America.  These  are  fictions. 
The  certain  facts  are  that  somewhere  about  1756  he  mar- 
ried a  ^liss  Nugent,  daughter  of  an  Irish  physician  who 
had  settled  in  England.  Miss  Nugent  was  a  Catholic,  and 
thus,  for  the  second  time,  the  Catholic  religion  was  en- 
deared to  Burke  by  one  of  the  closest  of  human  relation- 
ships. At  about  the  same  time  as  his  marriage,  Burke 
made  his  first  appearance  as  an  author  by  the  "  Vindication 
of  Natural  Society,"  a  satire  upon  Bolingbroke  which  many 
accepted  as  a  genuine  w^ork  of  Bolingbroke's,  and  by 
the  "Essay  on  the  Sublime  and  the  Beautiful,''  which 
is  perhaps  most  valuable  because  we  owe  to  it  in  some  de- 
gree the  later  masterpiece  of  aesthetic  criticism,  the 
''-  Laocoon  "  of  Lessing.  From  this  time  until  his  con- 
nection wdth  public  life  began  his  career  was  linked  with 
Fleet  Street  and  its  brotherhood  of  authors,  and  his  pen 
was  steadily  employed.  With  that  love  for  variety  of  sub- 
ject which  is  characteristic  of  most  of  the  authors  of  the 
eighteenth  century,  he  handled  a  number  of  widely  differ- 
ing themes.  He  wrote  "  Hints  for  an  Essay  on  the 
Drama,"  a  work  which  has  scarcely  held  its  place  in  the 
library  of  the  dramatist  by  the  side  of  the  "  Paradoxe  sur 
le     Comedien"     of     Diderot,     or     the     "  Hamburgische 

1759.  THE   WORK   OF  EDMUND   BURKE.  99 

Dramaturgie  "  of  Lessiug.  He  wrote  an  account  of  the 
European  settlements  in  America,  still  interesting  as  show- 
ing the  early  and  intimate  connection  of  his  thoughts  with 
the  greatest  of  English  colonies.  He  wrote  an  "  Abridg- 
ment of  English  History/^  which  carries  unfortunately 
no  farther  than  the  reign  of  John  a  narrative  that  is  not 
unworthy  of  its  author.  He  founded  the  "  Annual  Regis- 
ter/^ and  was  in  its  pages  for  many  years  to  come  the  his- 
torian of  contemporary  Europe.  Of  all  the  many  debts 
that  Englishmen  owe  to  Burke,  the  conception  and  incep- 
tion of  the  "  Annual  Register  "  must  not  be  reckoned  as 
among  the  least  important. 

It  was  at  this  point  in  his  career  that  Burke's  connection 
with  public  life  began,  not  to  end  thenceforward  until  the 
end  of  his  own  life.  Single-speech  Hamilton,  so  called 
because  out  of  a  multitude  of  speeches  he  made  one  mag- 
nificent speech,  was  attracted  to  Burke  by  the  fame  of  the 
'•  Vindication  of  Xatural  Society,'^  sought  his  acquaint- 
ance, and  when  Hamilton  went  to  Ireland  as  secretary  to 
Lord  Halifax,  Burke  accompanied  him.  For  two  years 
Burke  remained  with  Hamilton  in  Ireland,  studying  the 
Irish  question  of  that  day,  with  the  closeness  of  the 
acutest  mind  then  at  work  and  with  the  racial  sympathy 
of  the  native.  Then  he  quarrelled,  and  rightly  quarrelled, 
with  Hamilton,  because  Hamilton,  to  whom  the  aid  of 
Burke  was  infinitely  precious,  sought  to  bind  Burke 
foreyer  to  his  service  by  a  pension  of  three  hundred  a 
year.  Burke  demanded  some  leisure  for  the  literature 
that  had  made  his  name.  Hamilton  justified  Leland's 
description  of  him  as  a  selfish,  canker-hearted,  envious 
reptile  by  refusing.  Burke,  who  always  spoke  his  mind 
roundly,  described  Hamilton  as  an  infamous  scoundrel, 
flung  back  his  pension  and  returned  to  freedom,  independ- 
ence, and  poverty.  But  he  was  soon  to  enter  the  service 
of  another  statesman  under  less  galling  terms,  under  less 
unreasonable  conditions. 

Burke's  name  was  brought  before  Lord  Rockingham, 
probably  by  Burke's  friend  and  namesake,  though  in  all 
likelihood  not  kinsman,  William  Burke.     Lord  Rocking- 

100  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlvil 

lunii  appointed  Burke  his  private  secretary,  and  by  the 
simple  integrity  of  his  character  bound  Burke,  to  use  his 
own  words,  "  by  an  inviolable  attachment  to  him  from  that 
time  forward."  But  the  alliance  thus  begun  was  threat- 
ened in  its  birth.  A  mysterious  hostility  attributed  by 
Burke  to  "  Hell-Kite  "  Hamilton  brought  certain  charges 
to  the  notice  of  the  Duke  of  Newcastle.  The  Duke  of  New- 
castle hurried  to  Lord  Rockingham  to  warn  him  that  his 
newly  appointed  secretary  was  a  disguised  Jesuit,  a  dis- 
guised Jacobite.  Lord  Rockingham  immediately  com- 
municated these  accusations  to  Burke,  who  repelled  them 
with  a  firmness  and  dignity  which  had  the  effect  only  of 
confirming  Lord  Rockingham's  admiration  of  Burke  and 
of  drawing  closer  the  friendship  of  the  two  men.  Burke 
was  promptly  brought  into  Parliament  as  member  for 
Wendover,  and  during  the  single  year  which  Lord  Rock- 
ingham's Administration  lasted  its  leader  had  every  reason 
to  rejoice  at  the  happy  chance  which  had  given  to  him 
such  a  follower  and  such  an  ally. 

Burke  delivered  his  maiden  speech  in  the  House  of 
Commons  on  January  27,  1766,  a  few  days  after  the  open- 
ing of  the  session,  on  the  subject  of  the  dissatisfaction  in 
the  American  colonies.  His  speech  won  the  praise  of  the 
Great  Commoner;  his  succeeding  speeches  earned  him  en- 
thusiastic commendation  from  friends  and  admirers  out- 
side and  inside  the  House  of  Commons.  The  successful 
man  of  letters  had  proved  himself  rapidly  to  be  a  success- 
ful orator  and  a  politician  who  would  have  to  be  reckoned 

It  has  been  contended,  and  not  unreasonably,  that  as 
an  orator  Burke  is  not  merely  in  the  first  rank,  but  that 
he  is  himself  the  first,  that  he  stands  alone,  without  a 
rival,  without  a  peer,  and  that  none  of  the  orators  of 
antiquity  can  be  said  even  to  contest  his  unquestionable 
supremacy.  But  it  is  in  no  sense  necessary  to  Burke's 
fame  that  the  fame  of  others  should  be  in  any  way  im- 
pugned or  depreciated.  It  is  sufficient  praise  to  say  that 
Burke  is  one  of  the  greatest  orators  the  world  has  ever 
held.    To  argue  that  he  is  superior  to  Demosthenes  on  the 

1766.  THE   INFLUENCE   OF   BURKE'S  CAREER.  loi 

one  hand,  or  to  Cicero  on  the  other,  is  to  maintain  an  argu- 
ment very  much  on  a  par  with  that  which  it  amused  Burke 
himself  to  maintain  when  he  contended  for  the 
superiority  of  the  "  Aeneid  "  over  the  "  Iliad."  It  is  quite 
enough  to  be  able  to  say  well-nigh  without  fear  of  con- 
tradiction that  Burke  is  probably  the  greatest  orator  who 
ever  spoke  in  the  English  language. 

Burke's  political  career  began  brilliantly  in  the  cham- 
pionship of  freedom,  in  the  defence  of  the  oppressed,  in 
the  defiance  of  injustice.  He  was  made  welcome  to  the 
great  political  arena  in  which  he  was  to  fight  so  long  and 
so  hard.  His  ability  was  recognized  at  once;  he  may  be 
said  to  have  leaped  into  a  fame  that  the  passage  of  time 
has  not  merely  confirmed  but  increased.  No  author  more 
profoundly  infiuenced  the  thought  of  his  time;  no  author 
of  that  time  is  likely  to  exercise  a  more  enduring  influence 
upon  succeeding  generations.  Of  all  the  men  of  that 
busy  and  brilliant  age,  Burke  has  advanced  the  most  stead- 
ily in  the  general  knowledge  and  favor.  While  other  men, 
his  rivals  in  eloquence,  his  peers  in  the  opinions  of  his  con- 
temporaries, come  year  by  year  to  be  less  used  as  influences 
and  appealed  to  as  authorities,  the  wisdom  of  Burke  is 
more  frequently  drawn  upon  and  more  widely  appreciated 
than  ever.  The  world  sees  now,  even  more  clearly  than  the 
world  saw  then,  that  whether  Burke  was  right  or  wrong 
in  his  conclusions  as  to  any  question,  it  had  to  be  admitted 
that  the  point  of  view  from  which  he  started  to  get  at  that 
conclusion  was  the  correct  one. 

102  A   HISTORY   OF  TUE  FOUR  GEORGES.         ch.  xlviii. 



That  the  colonies  were  not  well  understood  in  England 
was  no  fault  of  the  colonists.  There  was  at  that  time  and 
hour  in  England  a  man  specially  authorized  to  speak  on 
behalf  of  the  colony  of  Pennsylvania,  and  indirectly  en- 
titled as  he  was  admirably  qualified  to  represent  the  other 
colonies.  At  that  time  Benjamin  Franklin  was  the  most 
distinguished  American  living  and  the  most  distinguished 
American  who  had  ever  lived.  It  was  not  his  first  visit 
to  England.  He  had  crossed  the  Atlantic  forty  years  be- 
fore when  he  was  a  youth  of  eighteen,  eager  to  set  up  for 
himself  as  a  master  printer,  and  anxious  to  obtain  the  ma- 
terials for  his  trade  in  the  old  country.  In  those  eighteen 
3^ears  he  had  learned  many  things.  He  had  learned  how 
to  print;  he  had  learned  how  to  bear  poverty  with  courage 
and  ambition  with  patience;  he  could  never  remember  a 
time  when  he  was  unable  to  read,  but  he  had  learned  how 
to  read  with  inexhaustible  pleasure  and  unfailing  profit, 
and  he  had  learned  how  to  write.  When  he  was  seventeen 
he  had  run  away  from  his  birthplace,  Boston,  and  the  home 
of  an  ill-tempered  brother,  and  made  his  way  as  best  he 
might  to  Philadelphia.  As  he  tramped  into  the  city  with 
a  loaf  under  each  arm  for  provender,  a  young  woman  lean- 
ing in  a  doorway  laughed  at  the  singular  figure.  Six  years 
later  she  married  Franklin,  who  in  the  interval  had  been 
a  journeyman  printer  in  Philadelphia,  a  journeyman 
printer  in  London,  and  had  at  last  been  able  to  set  up  for 
himself  in  Philadelphia.  From  1729  the  story  of  Frank- 
lin's life  is  the  story  of  a  steady  and  splendid  advance  in 
popularity  and  wealth,  and  in  the  greater  gifts  of  knowl- 
edge, wisdom,  and  humanity.    He  published  a  newspaper, 

1766.  BENJAMIN  FRANKLIN.  103 

the  Philadelphia  Gazette;  he  disseminated  frugality,  thrift, 
industry,  and  the  cheerful  virtues  in  "  Poor  Eichard's 
Almanack;"  he  was  the  benefactor  and  the  blessing  of 
the  city  of  his  adoption.  He  founded  her  famous  library; 
he  devoted  the  results  of  his  scientific  studies  to  her  com- 
fort, welfare,  and  comeliness;  he  maintained  her  defences 
as  a  military  engineer,  and  was  prepared  to  serve  her  gal- 
lantly in  the  field  against  the  Indians  as  a  colonel  of 
Militia  of  his  own  raising.  N^o  man  ever  lived  a  fuller  life 
0]"  did  so  many  things  with  more  indomitable  zeal  or  more 
honorable  thoroughness.  colony  of  Pennsylvania  was 
very  proud  of  her  illustrious  citizen  and  delighted  to  do 
him  honor.  ^Vhen  he  visited  England  for  the  second  time, 
in  1757,  he  was  the  Agent  for  the  General  Assembly  of 
Pennsylvania,  he  was  Deputy  Postmaster-General  for  the 
British  colonies,  he  was  famous  throughout  the  civilized 
world  for  his  discovery  of  the  identity  of  lightning  with 
the  electric  fluid.  He  was  in  London  for  the  third  time 
when  Kockingham  took  office.  He  had  lived  nearly  sixty 
years  of  a  crowded,  memorable,  admirable  life;  he  was 
loaded  with  laurels,  ripe  in  the  learning  of  books  and  the 
learning  of  the  book  of  the  world.  Even  he  whom  few 
things  surprised  or  took  unawares  would  have  been  sur- 
prised if  he  could  have  been  told  that  the  life  he  had  lived 
was  eventless,  bloodless,  purposeless  in  comparison  with 
the  life  he  had  yet  to  live,  and  that  all  he  had  done  for  his 
country  was  but  as  dust  in  the  balance  when  weighed 
against  the  work  he  was  yet  to  do  for  her.  He  was  stand- 
ing on  the  threshold  of  his  new  career  in  the  year  when 
Edmund  Burke  entered  Parliament. 

The  Kockingham  Administration  did  its  best  to  undo 
the  folly  of  Grenville's  Government.  After  long  debates 
in  both  Houses,  after  examination  of  Franklin  at  the  bar 
of  the  Commons,  after  the  strength  and  acumen  of  Mans- 
field had  been  employed  to  sustain  the  prerogative  against 
the  colonies  and  the  voice  of  Burke  had  championed  the 
colonies  against  the  prerogative,  after  Grenville  had  de- 
fended himself  with  shrewdness  and  Pitt  had  added  to 
the  splendor  of  his  fame,  the  Stamp  Act  was  formally  re- 

104  A   HISTORY   OF   TIIP]   FOUR  GEORGES.        ch.  xltiii. 

pealed.  Unhappily,  the  new  Ministry  was  only  permitted 
to  do  good  by  halves.  The  same  session  that  repealed  the 
Stamp  Act  promulgated  the  Declaratory  Act,  asserting 
the  full  power  of  the  King,  on  the  advice  of  Parliament, 
to  make  laws  binding  the  American  colonies  in  all  cases 
whatsoever.  This  desperate  attempt  to  assert  what  the 
repeal  of  the  Stamp  Act  virtually  surrendered  was  intended 
as  a  solace  to  the  King  and  as  a  warning — perhaps  a 
friendly  warning — to  the  colonies.  Those  who  were  most 
opposed  to  it  in  England  may  well  have  hoped  that  it 
might  be  accepted  without  too  much  straining  in  the 
general  satisfaction  caused  by  the  repeal  of  the  hated 
measure.  Even  Franklin  seemed  to  believe  that  the  De- 
claratory Act  would  not  cause  much  trouble  in  America. 
The  event  denied  the  hope,  and  indignation  at  the  Declara- 
tory Act  outlasted  in  America  the  rejoicing  over  the  sub- 
version of  Grenville's  policy.  Nevertheless,  the  rejoicing 
was  very  great.  On  May  16,  1766,  the  public  spirit  of 
Boston  was  stimulated  by  the  distribution  of  a  broadsheet 
headed  "  Glorious  Ncws.^'  This  broadsheet  announced 
the  arrival  of  John  Hancock's  brig  "  Harrison,"  in  six 
weeks  and  two  days  from  London,  with  the  important  tid- 
ings of  the  repeal  of  the  Stamp  Act.  The  broadsheet 
painted  a  lively  picture  of  the  enthusiasm  at  Westminster 
and  the  rejoicings  in  the  City  of  London  over  the  total 
repeal  of  the  measure.  It  told  of  the  ships  in  the  river 
displaying  all  their  colors,  of  illuminations  and  bonfires 
in  many  parts;  "in  short,  the  rejoicings  were  as  great  as 
was  ever  known  on  any  occasion."  This  broadsheet, 
^'  printed  for  the  benefit  of  the  public,"  ended  in  a  rapture 
of  delight.  "  It  is  impossible  to  express  the  joy  the  town 
is  now  in,  on  receiving  the  above  great,  glorious,  and  im- 
portant news.  The  bells  on  all  the  churches  were  immedi- 
ately set  a-ringing,  and  we  hear  the  day  for  a  general  re- 
joicing will  be  the  beginning  of  next  week."  Boston 
had  every  reason  to  rejoice,  to  ring  its  bells  and  fly  its 
flags,  and  set  poor  debtors  free  from  prison  in  honor  of 
the  occasion.  The  colonies  had  stood  together  against 
the   Home   Government,   and   had   learned   something   of 


the  strength  of  their  union  by  the  repeal  of  the  Stamp 

But  when. the  bells  had  stopped  ringing  and  the  flags 
were  hauled  down  and  the  released  debtors  had  ceased  to 
congratulate  themselves  upon  their  newly  recovered  lib- 
erty, Boston  and  the  other  colonial  cities  found  that  their 
satisfaction  was  not  untempered.  The  broadsheet  that  had 
blazoned  the  repeal  had  also  assured  its  readers  that  the 
Acts  of  Trade  relating  to  America  would  be  taken  under 
consideration  and  all  grievances  removed.  "  The  friends 
to  America  are  very  powerful  and  disposed  to  assist  us  to 
the  best  of  their  ability."  The  friends  to  America  were 
powerful,  but  they  fought  against  tremendous  odds.  Dul- 
ness  and  mediocrity,  a  spite  that  was  always  stupid,  and 
a  stupidity  that  was  often  spiteful,  an  alliance  of  igno- 
rance and  arrogance  were  the  forces  against  which  they 
struggled  in  vain.  The  Acts  of  Trade  were  to  be  enforced 
as  rigidly  as  ever.  The  Declaratory  Act  pompously  as- 
serted the  unimpeachable  prerogative  of  British  Majesty 
to  make  what  laws  it  pleased  for  the  colonies.  The  good 
that  had  been  done  seemed  small  in  comparison  with  the 
harm  that  might  yet  be  done,  that  in  all  probability  would 
1je  done. 

For  the  time  more  was  to  be  feared  from  the  viceroys 
of  the  provinces  than  from  the  Home  Government.  Mr. 
Secretary  Conway  addressed  a  circular  letter  to  the  govern- 
ors of  the  ditferent  colonies,  reproving  the  colonists,  in- 
deed, for  the  recent  disturbances,  but  with  a  measured 
mildness  of  reproof  that  seemed  carefully  calculated  not 
to  give  needless  offence  or  cause  unnecessary  irritation. 
"  If  by  lenient  persuasive  methods,"  Conway  wrote,  "  you 
can  contribute  to  restore  the  peace  and  tranquillity  to  the 
provinces  on  which  their  welfare  and  happiness  depend, 
you  will  do  a  most  acceptable  and  essential  service  to  your 
country."  An  appeal  so  suave,  advice  so  judicious,  did 
not  seem  the  less  prudent  and  humane  because  the  Secre- 
tary insisted  upon  the  repression  of  violence  and  outrage 
and  reminded  those  to  whom  his  letter  was  addressed  that 
if  thev  needed  aid  in  the  maintenance  of  law  and  order 

106  A    HISTORY   OF   THE   FOUR   GEORGES.         ch.  xlviii. 

tliey  were  to  require  it  at  tlie  hands  of  the  commanders  of 
his  j\rajesty's  hind  and  naval  forces  in  America.  If  all 
the  gentlemen  to  whom  the  Secretary's  circular  was  ad- 
dressed had  been  as  reasonable  and  as  restrained  in  lan- 
guage as  its  writer,  things  might  even  then  have  turned 
out  very  differently.  It  was  not  to  be  expected,  and  the 
colonists  did  not  expect,  that  outrage  and  violence  were  to 
go  unchallenged  and  unpunished,  and  it  is  probable  that 
few  even  in  Massachusetts  w^ould  have  objected  to  the 
formal  expression  of  thanks  for  firmness  and  zeal  w^hich 
was  made  by  Conway  to  the  governor  of  that  colony.  But 
the  temperance  that  was  possible  to  Conway  was  impossi- 
ble to  Bernard.  Bernard  was  one  of  the  worst  of  a  long 
line  of  inappropriate  colonial  governors.  He  was  a  hot- 
headed, hot-hearted  man  who  seemed  to  think  that  to  play 
the  part  of  a  domineering,  blustering  bully  was  to  show 
discretion  and  discernment  in  the  duties  of  his  office.  He 
always  acted  under  the  conviction  that  he  must  always  be 
in  the  right  and  every  one  else  always  in  the  wrong,  and  he 
blazed  up  into  fantastic  rages  at  the  slightest  show  of 
opposition.  As  this  was  not  the  spirit  in  which  to  deal 
with  the  proud  and  independent  men  of  Massachusetts, 
Governor  Bernard  passed  the  better  part  of  his  life  in  a 
passion  and  w^as  forever  quarrelling  with  his  provincial 
legislature  and  forever  complaining  to  the  Home  Govern- 
ment of  his  hard  lot  and  of  the  mischievous,  mutinous  set 
of  fellows  he  had  to  deal  with. 

When  Bernard  received  the  Secretary's  letters  and  the 
accompanying  copies  of  the  two  Bills  that  had  been  passed 
by  the  British  Parliament,  he  hastened  to  make  them 
kno^\Ti  to  the  Assembly  of  Massachusetts.  But  he  made 
them  known  in  a  speech  that  was  wholly  lacking  in  either 
temperance  or  discretion.  Had  it  been  at  once  his  desire 
and  his  duty  to  inflame  his  hearers  against  himself  and 
the  Government  w^hich  he  represented  he  could  hardly  have 
chosen  words  more  admirably  adapted  for  the  purpose. 
With  a  wholly  unchastened  arrogance  and  a  wholly  un- 
governed  truculence,  the  governor  of  the  province  lectured 
or  rather  hectored  the  gentlemen  of  the  Council  and  the 


gentlemen  of  the  House  of  Representatives  after  a  fashion 
that  would  have  seemed  in  questionable  taste  on  the  part 
of  an  old-fashioned  pedagogue  to  a  parcel  of  unruly  school- 
boys. He  was  for  bullying  and  blustering  them  into  a 
better  behavior,  and  he  assured  those  who  were  willing  to 
make  amends  and  to  promise  to  be  good  in  the  future  that 
their  past  offences  would  be  buried  in  a  charitable  oblivion. 
"  Too  ready  a  forgetfulness  of  injuries  hath  been  said  to 
be  my  weakness,"  Bernard  urged  with  strange  igno- 
rance. "  However,  it  is  a  failing  which  I  had  rather  suffer 
by  than  be  without." 

The  House  of  Eepresentatives  replied  to  the  reproofs  of 
their  governor  in  an  address  that  was  remarkable  for  the 
firmness  with  which  it  maintained  its  own  position  and 
the  irony  with  which  it  reviewed  the  governor's  preten- 
sions. To  prove  their  independence  of  action,  they  delayed 
the  Act  of  Indemnity  demanded  by  Secretary  Conway  for 
several  months,  and  then  accompanied  it  with  a  general 
pardon  to  all  persons  who  had  been  concerned  in  the  riots 
provoked  by  the  Stamp  Act.  Though  this  Act  was  prompt- 
ly disallowed  by  the  Home  Government  on  the  ground  that 
the  power  of  pardon  belonged  exclusively  to  the  Crown, 
it  took  effect  nevertheless,  and  added  another  to  the  griev- 
ances of  Bernard  and  of  his  backers  in  England. 

The  slowly  widening  breach  between  the  American  colo- 
nies and  the  mother  country  might  even  yet  have  been 
filled  if  it  had  been  possible  for  the  King  to  depend  upon 
the  services  and  listen  to  the  advice  of  ministers  whose 
good  intentions  and  general  good  sense  had  the  advantage 
of  being  served  and  indirectly  inspired  by  the  genius  of 
Burke.  But  unhappily,  the  fortunes  of  the  party  with 
whom  he  was  allied  were  not  long  fated  to  be  official  fort- 
unes. After  a  vear  of  honorable  if  somewhat  colorless 
existence,  the  Rockingham  Administration  came  to  an  end. 
There  was  no  particular  reason  why  it  should  come  to  an 
end,  but  the  King  was  weary  of  it.  If  it  had  not  gravely 
dissatisfied  him,  it  had  afforded  him  no  grave  satisfaction. 
An  Administration  always  seemed  to  George  the  Third  like 
a  candle  which  he  could  illuminate  or  extinguish  at  his 

108  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUli   GEORGES.        ch.  xlviii. 

pleasure.  So  he  blew  out  the  Rockingham  Administration 
and  turned  to  Pitt  for  a  new  one.  In  point  of  fact,  an 
Administration  without  Pitt  was  an  impossibility.  The 
Duke  of  Grafton  had  resigned  his  place  in  the  Rockingham 
Ministry  because  he  believed  it  hopeless  to  go  on  without 
the  adhesion  of  Pitt,  and  Pitt  would  not  adhere  to  the 
Rockingham  Ministry.  Now,  with  a  free  hand,  he  set  to 
work  to  form  one  of  the  most  amazing  Administrations 
that  an  age  which  knew  many  strange  Administrations 
can  boast  of. 

The  malady  which  had  for  so  long  martyrized  the  great 
statesman  had  afflicted  him  heavily  of  late.  His  eccentric- 
ities had  increased  to  such  a  degree  that  they  could  hardly 
be  called  merely  eccentricities.  But  though  he  suffered  in 
mind  and  in  body  he  was  ready  and  even  eager  to  return 
to  power,  so  long  as  that  power  was  absolute.  By  this 
time  he  had  quarrelled  with  Temple,  who  had  so  often 
hindered  him  from  resuming  office,  and  who  was  now  as 
hostile  to  him  as  his  brother,  George  Grenville,  had  ever 
been.  Temple,  in  consequence,  found  no  place  in  the  new 
Administration.  The  Administration  was  especially  de- 
signed to  please  the  King.  A  party  had  grown  up  in  the 
State  which  was  known  by  the  title  of  the  King's  friends. 
The  King's  friends  had  no  political  creed,  no  political  con- 
victions, no  desire,  no  ambition,  and  no  purpose  save  to 
please  the  King.  What  the  King  wanted  said  they  would 
say;  what  the  King  wanted  done  they  would  do;  their 
votes  were  unquestionably  and  unhesitatingly  at  the  King's 
command.  They  did  not,  indeed,  act  from  an  invincible 
loyalty  to  the  royal  person.  It  was  the  royal  purse  that 
ruled  them.  The  King  was  the  fountain  of  patronage; 
wealth  and  honors  flowed  from  him;  and  the  wealth  and 
the  honors  welded  the  King's  friends  together  into  a  har- 
monious and  formidable  whole.  The  King's  friends  found 
themselves  well  represented  in  a  Ministry  that  was  other- 
wise as  much  a  thing  of  shreds  and  patches  as  a  harlequin's 
coat.  Pitt  had  tried  to  make  a  chemical  combination,  but 
he  only  succeeded  in  making  a  mixture  that  might  at  any 
time  dissolve  into  its  component  parts.     It  was  composed 

1766.  PITT  AS  EARL  OF  CHATHAM.  109 

of  men  of  all  parties  and  all  principles.  The  amiable  Con- 
way and  the  unamiable  Grafton  remained  on  from  Kock- 
ingham's  Ministry.  So  did  the  Duke  of  Portland  and 
Lord  Bessborough,  so  did  Saunders  and  Keppel.  Pitt  did 
not  forget  his  own  followers.  He  gave  the  Great  Seal  to 
Lord  Camden,  who,  as  Justice  Pratt,  had  liberated  Wilkes 
from  unjustifiable  arrest.  He  made  Lord  Shelburne  one 
of  the  Secretaries  of  State.  The  Chancellorship  of  the 
Exchequer  was  given  to  a  politician  with  a  passion  for 
popularity  that  made  him  as  steadfast  as  a  weathercock, 
Charles  Townshend. 

By  this  time  Pitt  was  no  longer  the  Great  Commoner. 
The  House  of  Commons  was  to  know  him  no  more.  Under 
the  title  of  Earl  of  Chatham  he  had  entered  the  Upper 
Plouse.  Such  an  elevation  did  not  mean  then,  as  it  came 
later  to  mean,  something  little  better  than  political  ex- 
tinction. But  Pitt's  elevation  meant  to  him  a  loss  of  popu- 
larity as  immediate  as  it  was  unexpected.  Though  he  was 
no  longer  young,  though  he  was  racked  in  mind  and  body, 
though  he  sorely  needed  the  repose  that  he  might  hope  to 
find  in  the  Tapper  House,  he  was  assailed  with  as  much 
fury  of  vituperation  as  if  he  had  betrayed  the  State.  A 
country  that  was  preparing  to  rejoice  at  his  return  to 
power  lashed  itself  into  a  fury  of  indignation  at  his  ex- 
altation to  the  peerage.  In  the  twinkling  of  an  eye  men 
who  had  been  devoted  yesterday  to  Pitt  were  prepared  to 
believe  every  evil  of  Chatham.  His  rule  began  in  storm 
and  gloom,  and  gloomy  and  stormy  it  remained.  The  first 
act  of  his  Administration  roused  the  fiercest  controversy. 
A  bad  harvest  had  raised  the  price  of  food  almost  to  famine 
height.  Chatham  took  the  bold  step  of  laying  an  embargo 
on  the  exportation  of  grain.  The  noise  of  the  debates  over 
this  act  had  hardly  died  away  when  Pitt's  malady  again 
overmastered  him,  and  once  more  he  disappeared  from 
public  life  into  mysterious  melancholy  silence  and  seclu- 
sion. It  was  an  unhappy  hour  for  the  country  which  de- 
prived it  of  the  services  of  Chatham  and  left  the  helm  of 
state  in  the  hands  of  Charles  Townshend. 

Charles  To^^^lshend  was  the  erratic  son  of  a  singularly 

110  A   HISTORY  OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.         ch.  xlviii. 

erratic  mother.  The  beautiful  Audrey  Harrison  married 
the  third  Marquis  Townshend,  bore  him  five  children,  and 
then  separated  from  him  to  carry  her  beauty,  her  insolence, 
and  her  wit  through  an  amazed  and  amused  society.  It 
was  one  of  her  eccentricities  to  change  her  name  Audrey 
to  Ethelfreda.  Another  was  to  fancy  herself  and  to  pro- 
claim herself  to  be  very  much  in  love  with  the  unhappy 
Lord  Kilmarnock.  She  attended  the  trial  persistently, 
waited  under  his  windows,  quarrelled  with  Selwyn  for 
daring  to  jest  about  the  execution — no  very  happy  theme 
for  wit — and  was  all  for  adopting  a  little  boy  whom  some 
of  the  officials  of  the  Tower  had  palmed  off  upon  her  as 
Kilmarnock's  son.  Walpole  liked  her,  delighted  in  her 
witty,  stinging  sayings.  She  was  always  entertaining, 
always  alarming,  always  ready  to  say  or  do  anything  that 
came  into  her  mind.  She  lived,  a  whimsical,  spiteful, 
sprightly  oddity,  to  be  eighty-seven  years  of  age.  Charles 
Townshend  was  her  second  son,  and  Charles  Townshend 
was  in  many  ways  as  whimsical  as  his  mother.  He  had  a 
ready  wit,  a  dexterity  in  epigram,  an  astonishing  facility 
of  speech,  and  a  very  great  appreciation  of  his  own  power 
of  turning  friends  or  foes  into  ridicule.  It  is  told  of  him 
that  once  in  his  youth,  when  a  student  at  Leyden,  he 
suffered  from  his  readiness  to  jest  at  the  expense  of 
another.  At  a  merry  supper  party  he  plied  one  of  the 
guests,  a  seemingly  unconscious,  stolid  Scotchman  named 
Johnstone,  with  sneers  and  sarcasms  which  the  Scotchman 
seemed  to  disregard  or  take  in  good  part.  On  the  next 
morning,  however,  Townshend's  victim,  enlightened  by 
some  friend  as  to  the  way  in  which  he  had  been  made  a 
butt  of,  became  belligerent  and  sent  Townshend  a  chal- 
lenge. Various  opinions  have  been  expressed  of  Town- 
shend's  action  in  the  matter.  He  has  been  applauded  for 
good  sense.  He  has  been  reproached  for  cowardice.  Cer- 
tainly Townshend  did  not,  would  not  fight  his  challenger. 
It  required  a  great  deal  of  good  sense  to  decline  a  duel  in 
those  days,  and  Townshend  did  decline  the  duel.  He 
apologized  to  his  slow-witted  but  stubborn-purposed  op- 
ponent with  a  profusion  of  apology  which  some  of  his 


friends  thought  to  be  excessive.  In  these  days  we  should 
consider  Townshend's  refusal  to  fight  a  duel  merely  as  an 
unimportant  proof  of  his  common-sense,  but  in  the  last 
century,  in  the  society  in  which  Townshend  moved,  and 
on  the  Continent,  such  a  refusal  suggested  the  possession 
of  a  degree  of  common-sense  that  was  far  from  ordinary — 
that  was,  indeed,  extraordinary.  Townshend's  tact,  wit,  and 
good  spirits  carried  him  through  the  scrape  somehow.  He 
made  the  rounds  of  Leyden  with  his  would-be  adversary, 
calling  in  turn  upon  each  of  his  many  friends,  and  obtain- 
ing from  each,  in  the  presence  of  his  companion,  the  assur- 
ance that  Townshend  had  never  been  known  to  speak  of 
Johnstone  slightingly  or  discourteously  behind  his  back. 
The  episode,  trivial  in  itself,  gains  a  kind  of  gravity  by  the 
illustration  it  affords  of  Townshend^s  character  all  through 
Townshend's  short  career.  The  impossibility  of  restrain- 
ing an  incorrigible  tongue,  and  the  unreadiness  to  follow 
out  the  course  of  action  to  which  his  words  would  seem 
to  have  committed  him,  were  the  distinguishing  marks  of 
Townshend^s  political  existence.  No  man,  no  party,  nor 
no  friend  could  count  on  the  unflinching  services  of  Town- 
shend. His  conduct  was  as  irresponsible  as  his  eloquence 
was  dazzling.  In  his  twenty  years  of  public  life  he  had  but 
one  purpose — to  please  and  to  be  praised ;  and  to  gain  those 
ends  he  sacriiiced  consistency  and  discretion  with  a  light 
heart.  The  beauty  of  his  person  and  the  fluent  splendor 
of  his  speech  went  far  towards  the  attainment  of  an  ambi- 
tion which  was  always  frustrated  by  a  fatal  levity.  In  the 
fine  phrase  of  Burke,  he  was  a  candidate  for  contradictory 
honors,  and  his  great  aim  was  to  make  those  agree  in  ad- 
miration of  him  who  never  agreed  in  anything  else. 

It  has  been  given  to  few  men  to  desire  fame  more 
ardently,  and  to  attain  it  more  disastrously,  than  Charles 
Townshend.  If  we  may  estimate  the  man  by  the  praises 
of  his  greatest  contemporary,  no  one  better  deserved  a 
fairer  fortune  than  fate  allotted  to  him.  Burke  spoke  of 
Townshend  as  the  delight  and  ornament  of  the  House  of 
Commons,  and  the  charm  of  every  private  society  which 
he  honored  with  his  presence.     Though  his  passion  for 

112  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlviii. 

fame  might  be  immoderate,  it  was  at  least  a  passion  which 
is  the  instinct  of  all  great  souls.  While  Burke  could  rhap- 
sodize over  Townshend's  pointed  and  finished  wit,  his  re- 
fined, exquisite,  and  penetrating  judgment,  his  skill  and 
power  in  statement,  his  excellence  in  luminous  explana- 
tion, Walpole  was  no  less  enthusiastic  in  an  estimate  that 
contrasted  Townshend  with  Burke.  According  to  Walpole, 
Townshend,  who  studied  nothing  with  accuracy  or  atten- 
tion, had  parts  that  embraced  all  knowledge  with  such 
quickness  that  he  seemed  to  create  knowledge  instead  of 
seeking  for  it.  Eeady  as  Walpole  admits  Burke's  wit  to 
have  been,  lie  declares  that  it  appeared  artificial  when  set 
b}'  that  of  Townshend,  which  was  so  abundant  in  him 
that  it  seemed  a  loss  of  time  to  think.  Townshend's  ut- 
terances had  always  the  fascinating  effervescence  of  spon- 
taneity, while  even  Burke's  extempore  utterances  were  so 
pointed  and  artfully  arranged  that  they  wore  the  appear- 
ance of  study  and  preparation.  This  brilliant,  resplendent 
creature,  in  every  respect  the  opposite  to  George  Grenville, 
showv  where  Grrenville  was  solid,  fluent  where  he  was 
formal,  glittering  and  even  glowing  where  he  was  sober 
or  sombre,  fascinating  where  he  was  repellent,  gracious 
where  he  was  sullen,  and  polished  where  he  was  rude,  was 
nevertheless  destined  to  share  Grenville's  hateful  task  and 
Grenville's  deserved  condemnation.  Such  enthusiasm  as 
Parliament  had  permitted  itself  to  show  over  the  repeal 
of  Grenville's  Stamp  Act  had  long  flickered  out.  The 
colonists  were  regarded  with  more  disfavor  than  ever  by 
a  majority  that  raged  against  their  ingratitude  and  bitterly 
repented  the  repeal  of  the  Act.  Townshend's  passion  for 
popularity  forced  him  into  the  fatal  blunder  of  his  life.  He 
was  indeed,  as  Burke  said,  the  spoiled  child  of  the  House 
of  Commons,  never  thinking,  acting,  or  speaking  but  with 
a  view  to  its  judgment,  and  adapting  himself  daily  to  its 
disposition,  and  adjusting  himself  before  it  as  before  a 
looking-glass.  The  looking-glass  showed  him  a  member 
of  a  Ministry  that  was  unpopular  because  it  refused  to  tax 
America.  He  resolved  that  the  looking-glass  should 
show     him     a     member     of     a     Ministry     popular     be- 

1766.  DEATH   OF  TOWNSHEND.  113 

cause  it  was  resolved  to  tax  America.  His  hunger 
and  thirst  after  popularity,  his  passion  for  fame, 
were  leading  him  into  strange  ways  indeed.  He  was 
to  leave  after  him  an  enduring  name,  but  enduring  for 
reasons  that  would  have  broken  his  bright  spirit  if  he  could 
have  realized  them.  The  shameful  folly  of  George  Gren- 
ville  was  the  shameful  folly  of  Charles  Townshend.  His 
name  stands  above  Grenville^s  in  the  roll  of  those  who  in 
that  disastrous  time  did  so  much  to  lower  the  honor  and 
lessen  the  empire  of  England.  It  became  plain  to  Town- 
shend that  the  Parliamentary  majority  regretted  the  repeal 
of  the  Stamp  Act  and  resented  the  theory  that  America 
should  not  be  taxed.  Townshend  resolved  that  revenue 
could  and  should  be  raised  out  of  America.  He  intro- 
duced a  Bill  imposing  a  tax  on  glass,  paper,  and  tea  upon 
the  American  colonies.  Though  the  amount  to  be  raised 
was  not  large,  no  more  than  forty  thousand  pounds,  and 
though  it  was  proposed  that  the  whole  of  the  sum  should 
be  spent  in  America,  it  was  as  mischievous  in  its  result 
as  if  it  had  been  more  malevolently  aimed.  Townshend 
himself  did  not  live  long  enough  to  learn  the  unhappy  con- 
sequences of  his  folly.  A  neglected  fever  proved  fatal  to 
him  in  the  September  of  1767,  in  the  forty- third  year  of 
his  age.  Walpole  lamented  him  with  an  ironical  appre- 
ciation. ^'  Charles  Townshend  is  dead.  All  those  parts 
and  fire  are  extinguished ;  those  volatile  salts  are  evapo- 
rated; that  first  eloquence  of  the  world  is  dumb;  that  du- 
plicity is  fixed,  that  cowardice  terminated  heroically.  He 
joked  on  death  as  naturally  as  he  used  to  do  on  the  living, 
and  not  with  the  afCectation  of  philosophers  who  wind  up 
their  works  with  sayings  which  they  hope  to  have  remem- 
bered." Townshend  had  passed  away,  but  his  policy  re- 
mained, a  fatal  legacy  to  the  country. 

Townshend  was  immediatelv  succeeded  in  the  Chan- 
cellorship  of  the  Exchequer  by  a  young  politician  who  had 
been  for  some  years  in  Parliament  and  had  held  several 
offices  without  conspicuously  distinguishing  himself.  WTien 
Lord  North  entered  the  House  of  Commons  as  member 
for  Banbury,  his  record  was  that  of  any  intelligent  young 

114  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.         ch.  xlviii. 

nobleman  of  his  time.  He  had  written  pleasing  Latin 
love  jjoems  at  Eton,  he  had  been  to  Oxford,  he  had  studied 
at  Leipzig.  George  Grenville  saw  great  promise  in  North. 
He  even  predicted  that  if  he  did  not  relax  in  his  political 
pursuits  he  was  very  likely  to  become  Prime  Minister.  Un- 
happily for  his  country,  North  did  not  relax  in  his  polit- 
ical pursuits.  There  was  an  ironic  fitness  in  the  fact  that 
North  should  be  admired  by  Grenville  and  should  succeed 
to  Townshend,  for  no  man  was  better  fitted  to  carry  on  the 
fatal  policy  of  the  two  men  who  had  outraged  the  Ameri- 
can colonies  by  the  Stamp  Act  and  the  tax  on  tea. 

1161.  THE  RETURN   OF   WILKES.  115 



While  the  King's  Government  was  preparing  for  itself 
an  infinity  of  trouble  a])road,  it  was  not  destined  to  find 
itself  idle  for  want  of  trouble  at  home.  Great  and  grave 
trouble  came  upon  the  King  and  his  friends  suddenly,  and 
out  of  a  quarter  from  which  they  least  expected  it.  If 
they  were  confident  of  anything,  they  were  confident  that 
they  had  dealt  the  final  blow  to  the  audacious  demagogue 
who  for  a  time  had  fluttered  the  town  with  the  insolences 
of  the  North  Briton.  The  North  Briton  had  ceased  to 
exist.  Of  the  two  men  whose  bitter  genius  had  been  its 
breath,  Churchill  was  dead,  and  Wilkes  himself,  a  fugitive 
and  a  beggar,  drifting  from  one  European  capital  to 
another,  seemed  as  little  to  be  feared  as  if  he  slept  by 
ChurchilFs  side.  The  visit  of  the  Commander's  statue  to 
Don  Juan  seemed  scarcely  more  out  of  the  course  of  nat- 
ure to  Don  Juan's  lackey  than  the  reappearance  in  active 
public  life  of  Wilkes  appeared  to  the  King's  friends,  for 
whom  Wilkes  had  ceased  to  exist. 

Wilkes  had  wearied  of  Continental  life.  His  affection 
for  his  own  country  was  so  earnest  and  so  sincere  that,  in 
a  letter  to  the  Duke  of  Grafton,  he  declared  his  willing- 
ness to  bury  himself  in  the  obscurity  of  private  life,  if  he 
were  permitted  to  return  unmolested  to  England.  The 
appeal  failed  to  extract  a  satisfactory  reply.  The  Minis- 
ters would  make  no  terms  with  their  ruined  foeman. 
Wilkes  then  resolved  to  show  that  he  was  not  so  helpless 
as  his  enemies  appeared  to  think  him.  He  published  in 
1767,  in  London,  a  pamphlet,  in  which  he  stated  his  case 
with  indignation,  but  not  without  dignity.  When  the 
pamphlet  had  obtained  a  wide  circulation,  Wilkes  followed 

116  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlix. 

it  up  l)}^  appearing  himself  in  London  in  the  February  of 
1768,  at  the  moment  of  the  general  election,  and  announc- 
ing himself  as  a  candidate  for  Parliament  for  the  City  of 
London.  The  audacity  of  this  step  amazed  his  enemies 
and  delighted  his  friends.  If  it  had  been  taken  a  little 
earlier  it  might  have  won  him  the  seat.  So  calm  and  so 
wise  an  observer  as  Franklin,  at  least,  thought  that  it 
would  have  done  so.  As  it  was,  though  Wilkes  came  late 
into  the  field,  and  was  placed  at  the  bottom  of  the  poll, 
he  secured  more  than  twelve  hundred  votes,  and  did,  in  the 
conventional  phrase  too  often  used  to  soothe  defeat,  gain 
a  great  moral  victory. 

The  courage  of  the  outlaw  had  more  than  revived  all 
the  old  enthusiasm  for  him.  We  know  on  the  authority 
of  Burke  that  the  acclamations  of  joy  with  which  he  was 
welcomed  by  the  populace  were  inconceivable,  and  that  the 
marks  of  public  favor  which  he  received  were  by  no  means 
confined  to  the  lower  order  of  the  people.  Several  mer- 
chants and  other  gentlemen  of  large  property  and  of  con- 
siderable interest  openly  espoused  his  cause,  and  a  sub- 
scription was  immediately  opened  in  the  City  for  the  pay- 
ment of  his  debts.  We  know  on  other  authority  that  in 
an  age  when  betting  was  the  mode  the  extraordinary  bet- 
ting as  to  Wilkes's  success  in  his  desperate  enterprise  was 
actually  organized  by  a  certain  number  of  brokers  into 
stock  which  was  quoted  on  'Change.  Burke  ascribes  the 
reason  for  the  failure  to  the  open  voting.  The  electors 
were  obliged,  he  said,  to  record  their  names,  and  the  con- 
sequences of  an  opposition  to  great  corporate  and  commer- 
cial connections  were  too  obvious  not  to  be  understood. 

As  soon  as  Wilkes  knew  of  his  defeat  in  the  City,  he 
struck  a  vet  bolder  note  for  success.  He  came  forward  at 
once  as  a  candidate  for  the  County  of  Middlesex  in  opposi- 
tion to  the  established  interest  of  two  gentlemen  who  had 
represented  it  for  several  years,  who  were  supported  by  the 
whole  interest  of  the  Court  and  who  had  considerable  for- 
tunes and  great  connections  in  it.  But  Wilkes,  too,  had 
powerful  abettors.  The  Duke  of  Portland  was  one  of  his 
most  prominent  supporters.     His  old  friend  Temple  sup- 


plied  the  freehold  qualification  which  was  then  essential 
for  a  Parliamentary  candidate.  Home,  the  Rector  of  Brent- 
ford, where  the  election  took  place,  gave  all  his  great  influ- 
ence and  all  his  srifts  to  the  service  of  Wilkes  with  the 
same  devotion  that  had  formerly  animated  Churchill. 
Home  was  not  altogether  an  admirable  character,  and  his 
enthusiasm  for  Wilkes  had  hitherto  awakened  no  corre- 
sponding enthusiasm  on  Wilkes's  part.  But  Home  was 
invaluable  at  a  crisis  like  the  Middlesex  election.  He  had 
the  eloquence  of  a  sophist;  he  had  the  strategy  of  a  tac- 
tician; he  was  endowed  with  an  unconquerable  energy, 
an  indomitable  determination.  He  was  exceedingly  popular 
in  his  parish;  he  caught  the  mood  of  the  popular  party, 
and  he  happened  to  be  on  the  right  side.  It  would  be 
difficult  to  exaggerate  the  importance  of  the  services  he 
rendered  to  Wilkes  and  to  the  cause  of  which  Wilkes  was 
the  figurehead  by  his  work  in  the  i\[iddlesex  election. 
The  zeal  of  Home,  the  friendship  of  Temple,  the  daring 
of  Wilkes  carried  the  day.  It  was  no  ordinary  victory. 
It  was  an  astonishing  triumph.  As  Burke  pointed  out. 
the  same  causes  did  not  operate  upon  the  freeholders  at 
large  which  had  prevented  the  inclinations  of  the  livery 
of  London  from  taking  effect  in  Wilkes's  favor,  and  the 
result  of  the  polling  on  March  28  w^as  that  Wilkes  was 
returned  to  Parliament  by  a  prodigious  majority.  Wilkes 
polled  1290  votes.  Mr.  George  Cooke,  the  Tory  candi- 
date, who  had  been  the  representative  for  eighteen  years, 
only  scored  827,  and  Sir  W.  Beauchamp  Procter,  the  Whig 
candidate,  only  got  807  votes. 

There  was  great  excitement  in  London  when  the  result 
of  the  election  was  known.  It  pleased  the  popular  voice 
to  insist  that  every  window  should  be  illuminated  in  honor 
of  Wilkes's  triumph,  and  all  windows  that  were  not  lit  up 
were  unhesitatingly  broken.  Those  persons  who  were 
known  to  be  Wilkes's  principal  opponents  received  the 
special  attentions  of  the  mob.  Lord  Bute's  house  had  to 
stand  a  siege;  so  had  the  house  of  Lord  Egremont,  w^ho 
had  signed  the  warrant  for  Wilkes's  committal;  so  had 
other  houses  which  were  either  known  to  belong  to  the 

118  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  xlix. 

opponents  of  the  hero  or  showed  themselves  to  be  such 
by  their  darkened  windows.  All  such  windows  were  in- 
stantly broken,  to  the  joy  of  the  glaziers,  who  declared 
that  a  Middlesex  election  was  worth  any  number  of  Indian 
victories.  The  mob  had  it  all  its  own  way,  for  the  strength 
of  the  constabulary  had  been  drafted  off  to  Brentford  in 
expectation  of  rioting  there  which  never  took  place.  But 
the  mob  did  not  abuse  its  triumph.  It  was  in  its  playful, 
not  its  dangerous  mood.  It  stopped  the  carriages  of  the 
gentry,  made  the  occupants  cheer  for  Wilkes  and  Liberty, 
scrawled  the  number  Forty-five  upon  the  polished  panels, 
broke  the  glasses,  but  in  the  main  let  the  carriage-owners 
go  unmolested.  The  Duke  of  Northumberland  was  forced 
to  toast  the  popular  favorite  in  a  mug  of  ale.  One  ludi- 
crous occurrence  very  nearly  became  an  international  epi- 
sode. The  Austrian  Ambassador,  Count  Hatzfeldt,  famed 
for  his  stateliness,  for  his  punctiliousness  in  ceremonial, 
fell  a  victim  to  popular  misapprehension.  The  mob  that 
surrounded  his  coach  took  him,  unhappily,  for  a  Scotch- 
man, either  because  of  his  stiffness  of  demeanor  or  because 
they  could  not  understand  what  he  was  saying.  To  be 
thought  Scotch  was  a  bad  thing  for  any  man  in  the  hands 
of  a  mob  that  howled  for  Wilkes,  that  howled  against  Bute. 
The  Austrian  Ambassador  was  dragged  from  his  carriage 
and  held  uplifted  in  sufficiently  uncomfortable  fashion 
while  the  magic  number  Forty-five  was  chalked  upon  the 
soles  of  his  shoes.  He  was  no  further  hurt ;  if  he  had  been 
a  more  prudent  man  he  would  have  grinned  at  the  mis- 
chance and  said  no  more  about  it.  But  he  chose  to  con- 
sider his  dignity  and  the  dignity  of  his  empire  affronted  by 
the  follies  of  a  crowd.  He  lodged  a  formal  complaint 
with  the  English  Government.  The  English  Government 
could  do  nothing  more  than  express  regret  with  such 
gravity  as  it  could  muster.  As  for  the  irreverent  rogues 
who  had  laid  their  hands  upon  the  feet  of  the  representa- 
tive of  a  friendly  State,  it  was  not  in  the  power  of  the 
Government  to  punish  them.  The  earth  has  bubbles  as 
the  water  has,  and  they  were  of  them. 

For  two  days  the  towTi  was  practically  at  the  mercy  of 

1768.  WILKES   IX   PRISON.  119 

the  Wilkite  mob.  The  trainbands  were  called  out  by  the 
Mayor,  who  was  an  ardent  courtier,  but  the  men  of  the 
trainbands  were,  for  the  most  part,  no  less  ardent  Wilkites. 
They  lent  their  drums  to  swell  the  noise  of  Wilkes's  tri- 
umph; they  could  not  be  counted  on  to  lend  their  muskets 
to  the  suppression  of  Wilkes's  partisans.  Even  the  regular 
troops  were  not,  it  was  thought,  to  be  relied  upon  in  the 
emergency.  It  was  said  here  that  certain  regimental  drum- 
mers had  beaten  their  drums  for  Wilkes;  it  was  said  there 
that  soldiers  had  been  heard  to  declare  that  they  would 
never  fire  upon  the  people. 

The  fury  of  the  Ministry,  and  especially  the  fury  of  the 
King,  flamed  high.  The  King's  heat  was  increased  by  a 
letter  which  Wilkes  had  addressed  directly  to  him  on  his 
return  to  England.  In  this  letter  Wilkes  made  a  not  un- 
dignified appeal  for  the  King's  mercy  and  clemency,  com- 
plained of  the  wicked  and  deceitful  acts  of  revenge  of  the 
late  Ministry,  and  assured  the  sovereign  of  his  zeal  and 
attachment  to  his  service.  To  this  letter,  naturally,  no 
direct  reply  was  made.  The  form  that  the  King's  answer 
took  was  to  insist  that  all  the  strength  of  the  Government 
must  be  used  against  Wilkes  in  order  that  he  should  be 
driven  from  that  Parliament  to  which  the  electors  of  Mid- 
dlesex had  dared  to  return  him. 

In  the  mean  time  the  force  of  the  law  was  slowly  exerted 
against  Wilkes.  Wilkes  had  promised  that  on  the  first 
day  of  the  term  following  his  arrival  in  England  he  would 
present  himself  at  the  Court  of  King's  Bench.  He  kept 
his  promise  and  surrendered  himself  on  April  20.  The 
judges  of  the  King's  Bench  seem  to  have  been  paralyzed 
by  the  position.  It  took  them  a  whole  week  to  decide  that 
they  would  refuse  Wilkes  bail — a  whole  week,  every  day, 
every  hour  of  which  served  to  make  Wilkes's  cause  better 
known  and  Wilkes  himself  more  popular.  Wilkes  went  to 
prison  under  the  most  extraordinary  circumstances.  His 
journey  from  Westminster  to  Bishopsgate  was  more  like 
a  royal  progress  than  the  passage  of  a  criminal  and  an  out- 
law. It  was  only  with  the  greatest  difficulty  that  Wilkes 
was  able  to  detach  himself  from  the  zeal  of  the  populace 

120  A   HISTORY   OF   THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xux. 

and  get  quietly  into  his  prison.  The  prison  immediately 
became  an  object  of  greater  interest  than  a  royal  palace. 
Every  day  it  was  surrounded  by  a  dense  crowd  that  con- 
sidered itself  rewarded  for  hours  of  patient  waiting  if  it 
could  but  get  a  glimpse  of  the  prisoner's  face  at  a  window. 
All  this  show  of  enthusiasm  exasperated  the  ministers  and 
drove  them  into  the  very  acts  that  were  best  calculated  to 
keep  the  enthusiasm  alive.  On  the  day  of  the  opening  of 
Parliament,  May  10,  the  Government,  under  the  pretence 
of  fearing  riot,  sent  down  a  detachment  of  soldiers  to  guard 
the  King's  Bench  Prison,  in  St.  George's  Fields.  This 
was  in  itself  a  rash  step  enough,  but  every  circumstance 
attending  it  only  served  to  make  it  more  rash.  As  if  de- 
liberately to  aggravate  the  popular  feeling,  the  regiment 
chosen  for  this  pretence  of  keeping  the  peace  was  a  Scotch 
regiment.  At  a  moment  when  everything  Scotch  was  in- 
sanely disliked  in  London  such  a  choice  was  not  likely  to 
insure  good  temper  either  on  the  part  of  the  mob  or  on 
the  part  of  the  military.  That  good  temper  was  not  in- 
tended or  desired  was  made  plain  by  a  letter  written  by 
Lord  Weymouth,  the  Secretary  of  State,  to  the  local  magis- 
trate, urging  him  to  make  use  of  the  soldiers  in  any  case 
of   riot. 

What  followed  was  only  what  might  have  been  expect- 
ed. The  crowd,  irritated  by  the  non-appearance  of  Wilkes, 
still  more  irritated  by  the  presence  of  the  soldiery,  threat- 
ened, or  was  thought  to  threaten,  an  attack  upon  the 
prison.  Angry  words  were  followed  by  blows;  the  brawl 
between  the  mob  and  the  military  became  a  serious  con- 
flict. A  young  man  named  Allan,  who  seems  to  have  had 
nothing  to  do  with  the  scuffle,  was  killed  in  a  private  house 
by  some  of  the  soldiers  who  had  forced  an  entrance  in 
pursuit  of  one  of  their  assailants.  Then  the  Eiot  Act 
was  read ;  the  troops  fired ;  half  a  dozen  of  the  rioters  were 
killed,  including  one  woman,  and  several  others  were 

News  of  this  bad  business  intensified  the  angry  feeling 
against  the  Government.  A  Scotch  soldier,  Donald  Mac- 
lean, was  put  on  his  trial  for  the  murder  of  Allan.     His 

1768.  THE  MINISTRY  ON    ITS  DEFENCE.  121 

acquittal  caused  an  indignation  which  deepened  when  the 
colonel  of  the  regiment  presented  him  with  thirty  guineas 
on  behalf  of  the  Government.  This  was  taken  as  an  ex- 
ample of  the  determination  of  the  Crown  to  silence  the 
voice  of  the  people  with  the  weapons  of  Scotch  mercenaries. 
Pamphlets,  speeches,  sermons,  all  were  employed  to  stimu- 
late the  general  agitation  and  to  brand  with  atrocity  the 
conduct  of  the  Ministrv.  The  tombstone  erected  over  the 
murdered  man  Allan  chronicled  his  inhuman  murder  "  by 
Scottish  detachments  from  the  Army,"  and  quoted  from 
Proverbs  the  words,  "  Take  away  the  wicked  from  before 
the  King." 

The  ministers,  on  their  side,  were  not  slow  to  defend 
themselves.  Burke,  with  his  usual  fairness,  has  stated 
their  case  for  them  when  he  tells  how  they  painted  in  the 
strongest  colors  the  licentiousness  of  the  rabble  and  that 
contempt  of  all  government  which  makes  it  necessary  to 
oppose  to  a  violent  distemper  remedies  not  less  violent. 
This  is,  of  course,  the  excuse  of  every  overbearing  authority, 
which,  having  aroused  irritation  by  its  own  mismanage- 
ment, can  conceive  of  no  better  way  of  allaying  that  irrita- 
tion than  the  bayonet  and  the  bullet.  The  Ministry  and 
the  advocates  of  the  Ministry  maintained  that  the  un- 
happy disposition  of  the  people  was  such  that  juries  under 
the  influence  of  the  general  infatuation  could  hardly  be 
got  to  do  justice  to  soldiers  under  prosecution,  unless 
Grovernment  interposed  in  the  most  effectual  manner  for 
the  protection  of  those  who  had  acted  under  their  orders. 
They  further  urged  that,  in  view  of  the  danger  of  the 
insolence  of  the  populace  becoming  contagious  with  the 
very  soldier}^,  it  was  necessary  for  them  to  keep  those 
servants  firm  to  their  dutv  bv  new  and  unusual  rewards. 
"  Whatever  weight,"  says  Burke,  dryly,  "  might  have  been 
in  these  reasons,  they  were  but  little  prevalent,  and  the 
Ministry  became  by  this  affair  and  its  concomitant  circum- 
stances still  more  unpopular  than  by  almost  any  other 
event."  But  it  must  in  fairness  be  admitted  that,  foolish, 
stubborn,  and  even  brutal  as  the  King's  ministers  showed 
themselves  to  be,  their  position  was  a  very  difficult  one. 

122  A  HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlix. 

It  was  well  open  to  the  Government  to  urge,  and  to  urge 
with  truth,  the  peculiar  lawlessness  of  the  hour.  It  is  an 
effective  example  of  the  ineffectiveness  of  a  mere  policy 
of  coercion  that,  at  a  time  when  the  penal  laws  of  Great 
Britain  were  ferocious  to  a  degree  that  would  have  dis- 
graced Dahomey,  the  laws  were  so  frequently  defied,  and 
defied  with  impunity.  The  laws  might  be  merciless,  even 
murderous,  but  the  Executive  had  not  always  the  power  to 
compel  respect  or  to  enforce  obedience.  Among  the  lower 
classes  in  the  great  city,  and  not  merely  that  portion  of  the 
lower  classes  who  are  qualified  by  the  appellation  of  the 
dangerous  classes,  but  in  strata  where  at  least  a  moderate 
degree  of  civilization  might  be  hoped  for,  an  amount  of 
savagery,  of  lawlessness,  and  of  cruelty  prevailed  that 
would  have  not  ill  become  the  pirates  of  the  Spanish  Seas 
or  the  most  brutal  of  Calabrian  brigands.  The  hideous 
institution  of  the  pillory  stimulated  and  fostered  all  the 
worst  instincts  of  a  mob  to  whose  better  instincts  no  decent 
system  of  education  sought  to  appeal.  Ignorance,  and 
poverty,  and  dirt  brooded  over  the  bulk  of  the  poorer  popu- 
lation, to  breed  their  inevitable  consequences.  Murder  was 
alarmingly  common.  Eiots  that  almost  reached  the  propor- 
tions of  petty  civil  wars  were  liable  to  arise  at  any  moment 
between  one  section  of  the  poorer  citizens  and  another. 
The  horrors  of  the  Brownrigg  case  show  to  what  extent 
lust  of  cruelty  could  go.  The  large  disbandments  that 
are  the  inevitable  consequence  of  peace  after  a  long  war 
had  thrown  out  of  employment,  and  thrown  upon  the  coun- 
try, no  small  number  of  needy,  unscrupulous,  and  desper- 
ate men,  only  too  ready  to  lend  a  hand  to  any  disturbance 
that  might  afford  a  chance  of  food  and  drink  and  plunder. 

Mob  law  ruled  in  London  to  an  extraordinary  degree 
during  the  whole  of  the  eighteenth  century.  It  reached  a 
high  pitch,  but  not  its  highest  pitch,  at  the  time  when  the 
watchword  was  Wilkes  and  Liberty.  London  was  to  wit- 
ness bitterer  work,  bloodier  work  than  anything  which  fol- 
lowed upon  the  Middlesex  election  and  the  imprisonment 
of  the  popular  hero.  But  for  the  time  the  audacity  of  the 
mob  seemed  to  have  gone  its  farthest.    The  temper  of  the 

1752.  MOB   VIOLE^X'E   IN   DONDON.  123 

mob  was  insolent,  its  insolence  was  brutal.  It  hated  all 
foreigners — and  among  foreigners  it  now  included  Scotch- 
men— and  it  manifested  its  hatred  in  vituperation,  and 
when  it  dared  in  violence.  A  white  man  would  hardly 
be  in  more  danger  in  a  mid- African  village  than  a  foreigner 
was  in  the  streets  of  London.  There  is  a  contemporary  ac- 
count written  by  a  French  gentleman  who  travelled  in 
England,  and  who  published  his  observations  on  what  he 
saw  in  England,  which  gives  a  piteous  account  of  the  bar- 
barous incivility  to  which  he,  his  friends,  and  his  servants 
were  exposed  when  they  walked  abroad.  The  mob  that 
jeered  and  insulted  the  master  very  nearly  killed  the 
servant  for  the  single  offence  of  being  a  Frenchman.  But 
the  brutalities  of  the  mob  were  not  limited  to  strangers. 
The  citizens  of  London  fared  almost  as  badly  if  not  quite 
as  badly  as  any  Frenchman  could  do.  Fielding  gives  a 
picture  in  one  of  his  essays  of  the  lawless  arrogance  which 
was  characteristic  of  the  rabble.  He  gave  to  the  mob  the 
title  of  the  Fourth  Estate  in  an  article  in  the  Covent  Garden 
Journal  for  June  13,  1752,  and  in  another  article  a  week 
later  he  painted  an  ironical  picture  of  the  brutal  manners 
and  overbearing  demeanor  of  the  mob.  "  A  gentleman," 
he  wrote,  "may  go  a  voyage  at  sea  with  little  more,  hazard 
than  he  can  travel  ten  miles  from  the  metropolis."  On 
the  river,  on  the  streets,  on  the  highways,  according  to 
Fielding,  mob  manners  prevailed,  and  brutal  language 
might  at  any  moment  be  followed  by  brutal  actions.  When 
the  largest  allowance  is  made  for  the  exaggeration  of  the 
satirist,  enough  remains  to  show  that  the  condition  of 
London  in  the  second  half  of  the  eighteenth  century  was 
disorderly  in  the  extreme.  People  who  ventured  on  the 
Thames  were  liable  to  the  foulest  insults,  and  even  to  be 
run  down  by  those  who  were  pleased  to  regard  the  stream 
as  their  appanage,  and  who  resented  the  appearance  on  it 
of  any  who  seemed  better  dressed  than  themselves.  Women 
of  fashion  were  liable  to  be  hustled,  mobbed,  insulted  if 
they  ventured  in  St.  James's  Park  on  a  Sunday  evening. 
No  one  could  walk  the  streets  by  day  without  the  prob- 
ability of  being  annoyed,  or  by  night  without  the  risk  of 

124  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  xlix. 

being  knocked  down.  After  painting  his  grim  picture  in 
the  Hogarth  manner,  Fielding  concluded  grimly  that  he 
must  observe  "  that  there  are  two  sorts  of  persons  of 
whom  this  fourth  estate  do  yet  stand  in  some  awe,  and 
whom,  consequently,  they  have  in  great  abhorrence:  these 
are  a  justice  of  the  peace  and  a  soldier.  To  these  two  it 
is  entirely  owing  that  they  have  not  long  since  rooted  all 
the  other  orders  out  of  the  commonwealth.^' 

The  Government  hoped  that  the  longer  Wilkes  lay  in 
prison,  the  more  chance  there  was  that  the  enthusiasm 
for  him  would  abate.  But  in  this  hope  the  Government 
were  disappointed.  Even  in  the  ranks  of  the  ministers 
the  King  was  not  able  to  find  unswerving  agreement  to  his 
demands  for  Wilkes's  expulsion  from  Parliament.  Out- 
side Parliament  the  agitation  was  not  only  undiminished, 
but  was  even  on  the  increase.  This  was  shown  conclusively 
by  a  fresh  event  in  connection  with  Middlesex.  Cooke, 
who  was  the  colleague  of  Wilkes  in  the  representation  of 
the  county,  died.  Serjeant  Glynn,  who  had  made  himself 
conspicuous  as  the  champion  of  Wilkes  and  the  advocate 
of  the  popular  cause,  came  forward  to  contest  the  vacant 
seat,  and  carried  the  constituency  in  spite  of  the  most  deter- 
mined efforts  on  the  part  of  the  royal  faction  to  defeat 
him.  There  were  more  riots,  more  deaths  on  the  popular 
side,  more  trials,  more  convictions  for  murder  and  more 
pardons  of  the  condemned  men.  The  agitation  which  had 
been  burning  at  a  steady  heat  blazed  up  into  a  flame. 
Wilkes  made  every  use  of  the  opportunity.  He  had  suc- 
ceeded in  getting  a  copy  of  the  letter  which  Lord  Wey- 
mouth had  sent  to  the  magistrates,  the  letter  in  which  Lord 
Weymouth  had  practically  urged  the  magistrates  to  fire 
upon  the  people.  Wilkes  immediately  sent  it  to  the  St. 
James's  Chronicle,  a  tri-weekly  independent  Whig  jour- 
nal which  had  been  started  in  1760.  The  >S'^.  James's 
Chronicle  printed  the  letter,  and  Wilkes's  own  letter  ac- 
companying it,  in  which  he  accused  the  Ministry  of  having 
planned  and  determined  upon  the  "  horrid  massacre  of  St. 
George's  Fields."  The  letter,  said  Wilkes,  "  shows  how 
long  a  hellish  project  can  be  brooded  over  by  some  infernal 

1769.         WILKES'S  EXPULSION   FROM   THE   COMMONS.  125 

spirits  without  one  moment's  remorse."  It  may  be  ad- 
mitted that  if  the  language  of  Wilkes's  enemies  in  the 
two  Houses  was  strong  even  to  ruffianism,  Wilkes  could 
and  did  give  them  as  good  as  he  got  in  the  way  of  invective 
and  vituperation. 

The  Government,  goaded  into  fury  by  this  daring  provo- 
cation, resolved  to  make  an  example  of  the  offender.  Lord 
Barrington  brought  the  letter  formally  before  the  House 
of  Commons.  The  House  of  Commons  immediately  voted 
it  a  libel,  and  summoned  Wilkes  from  his  prison  to  the 
bar  of  the  House.  On  February  3,  1769,  Wilkes  appeared 
before  the  Commons.  With  perfect  composure  he  admit- 
ted the  authorship  of  the  letter  to  the  St.  James's  Chronicle, 
and,  with  an  audacity  that  exasperated  the  House,  he  pro- 
claimed his  regret  that  he  had  not  expressed  himself  upon 
the  subject  in  stronger  terms,  and  added  that  he  should 
certainly  do  so  whenever  a  similar  occasion  should  present 
itself.  "  Whenever,"  he  said,  "  a  Secretary  of  State  shall 
dare  to  write  so  bloody  a  scroll,  I  will  through  life  dare 
to  write  such  prefatory  remarks,  as  well  as  to  make 
my  appeal  to  the  nation  on  the  occasion."  Wilkes  found 
champions  in  the  House  of  Commons.  Burke,  Beekford, 
and  many  others  either  defended  Wilkes  or  urged  that  the 
matter  was  not  for  the  House  of  Commons,  but  for  the  law 
courts  to  deal  with.  In  the  division  the  Government  was 
triumphant  by  a  majority  of  219  against  137,  and  Wilkes 
was  formally  expelled  from  the  House  of  Commons  on  the 
ground,  not  merely  of  his  comments  on  the  letter  of  Lord 
Weymouth,  but  on  account  of  the  ISTumber  Forty-five  of  the 
North  Briton  and  the  "  Essav  on  Woman." 

A  new  writ  was  issued  for  the  county  of  Middlesex. 
The  county  of  Middlesex  promptly  re-elected  Wilkes  with- 
out opposition  on  February  16.  On  February  17  the  House 
of  Commons  again  voted  the  expulsion  of  Wilkes.  This 
time  the  House  of  Commons  exceeded  its  powers  and  its 
privileges  in  adding  that  the  expelled  man  was  incapable 
of  sitting  in  the  existing  Parliament.  Every  blow  that  the 
royal  party  had  struck  at  Wilkes  had  only  aroused  stronger 
sympathy  for  him ;  and  this  illegal  act,  this  usurpation 

126  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  xlix. 

by  one  House  of  powers  that  only  belonged  to  Parliament, 
caused  the  liveliest  indignation.  It  was  resolved  by  the 
friends  of  Wilkes,  and  by  all  who  were  the  friends  of  the 
principles  with  which  Wilkes  had  come  to  be  identified,  to 
fight  to  the  utmost  in  defence  of  their  constitutional  rights, 
that  were  now  so  gravely,  so  wantonly  jeopardized.  On 
March  16  there  was  a  new  polling  at  Brentford,  and,  as 
before,  Wilkes  was  returned  unopposed.  There  was,  in- 
deed, an  effort  made  by  an  obscure  merchant  named  Ding- 
ley  to  oppose  him,  but  he  could  find  no  freeholder  to 
second  him,  and  he  was  chivied  ignominiously  from 
the  scene  of  the  election.  On  March  17  the  House  of 
Commons,  for  the  third  time,  played  what  Burke  called  the 
tragi-comedy  of  declaring  the  election  void.  A  new  writ 
was  again  issued,  and  this  time  the  Ministry  were  resolved 
that,  come  what  come  might,  Wilkes  should  have  an  op- 
ponent. It  was  not  the  easiest  of  tasks  to  find  a  man 
willing  to  oppose  Wilkes's  candidature  on  the  hustings  at 
Brentford.  Dingley,  the  merchant,  had  experienced  the 
violence  of  the  mob;  it  was  confidently  assumed  that  any 
other  antagonist  would  fare  very  much  worse.  But  the 
Ministry  found  their  champion  in  a  young  officer.  Colonel 
Luttrell,  of  the  Guards,  a  son  of  Lord  Irnham.  Luttrell 
was  a  gallant  young  soldier,  a  man  of  that  temper  which 
regards  all  popular  agitations  with  supreme  disdain,  and 
of  that  courage  that  would  face  any  danger,  not  merely 
with  composure,  but  with  pleasure.  His  friends  were  so 
apprehensive  that  he  was  going  to  his  death  that  his  life 
was  insured,  and  the  gentlemen  of  the  clubs,  who  were  al- 
ways willing  to  bet  upon  any  imaginable  contingency, 
betted  freely  on  his  chances  of  surviving  his  adventure. 
Wilkes's  friends,  however,  were  resolved  to  disappoint  the 
expectations  of  their  enemies.  Thanks  to  their  energy 
and  patience,  the  election  went  off  with  perfect  order. 
Wilkes  was,  of  course,  returned  at  the  top  of  the  poll  by 
an  enormous  majority.  Luttrell  came  next  with  less  than 
a  quarter  of  his  votes,  and  an  absurd  attorney,  who  had 
thrust  himself  into  the  election  at  the  last  moment,  came 
last  with  a  ludicrous  poll  of  five  votes. 

1769.  LORD  NORTH   AND  THE   WILKES  CASE.  127 

On  Thursday,  April  13,  Wilkes  was  elected.  London 
was  again  illuminated,  and  a  great  demonstration  outside 
the  King's  Bench  Prison  congratulated  the  hero  of  the 
hour  on  his  third  triumph.  On  the  following  day  the 
House  of  Commons  prepared  again  to  reject  Wilkes.  The 
debate  lasted  over  the  Saturday — a  rare  event  in  those 
days  —  and  in  the  early  daw^ning  of  Sunday  morning 
Colonel  Luttrell  was  declared  to  be  duly  elected  as  the 
member  for  Middlesex.  The  ministerial  victory  was  not  a 
very  great  victory.  They  had  only  a  majority  of  197  votes 
to  143.  It  served  their  turn  at  a  pinch,  but  it  was  not  a 
big  enough  majority  to  inspire  Lord  North  with  the 
courage  to  resist  a  proposal  that  a  fortnight  should  be  al- 
lowed to  the  electors  of  Middlesex  in  which,  if  they  wished, 
to  petition  against  conduct  which  practically  deprived  them 
of  their  constitutional  rights. 

Lord  North  had  many  years  of  public  life  before  him, 
many  years  of  slumbering  and  blundering  on  the  treasury 
bench,  before  his  death  in  1792,  as  Lord  Guildford,  in  a 
melancholy,  premature  old  age.  In  those  years  he  was 
privileged  to  do  a  vast  amount  of  injury  to  his  country, 
uncompensated  for  by  any  act  to  her  advantage.  Lord 
North's  conduct  in  the  case  of  Wilkes  was  not  the  most 
foolish  act  in  a  career  of  folly,  but  it  certainly  served  as  an 
illuminating  preface  to  a  chronicle  of  wasted  time.  No 
proofs  of  the  wit  that  endeared  him  to  his  contemporaries 
have  been  preserved ;  his  fame  for  an  unalterable  urbanity 
is  but  an  empty  memory;  his  record  is  only  rescued  from 
oblivion  by  the  series  of  incredible  follies  which  began 
with  the  unjust  attempt  to  annihilate  Wilkes. 

128  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  l. 



While  all  this  was  going  on  a  new  force  suddenly  made 
itself  felt  in  English  political  life.  The  King  and  his 
ministers  found  themselves  attacked  by  a  mysterious  and 
dangerous  opponent.  On  March  21,  1769,  a  letter  was  ad- 
dressed to  the  Public  Advertiser,  signed  "  Junius,"  which 
marked  the  beginning  of  a  new  era  in  political  literature. 
At  that  time  the  Puhlic  Advertiser  was  the  most  important 
paper  in  London.  It  had  first  appeared  under  that  name 
in  1752,  but  it  was  the  direct  descendant,  through  a  series 
of  changes  of  name,  of  the  Daily  Post,  which  Defoe  had 
helped  to  start  in  1719.  It  had  its  rivals  in  the  Daily  Ad- 
vertiser, which  was  founded  in  1724,  and  the  Gazetteer 
and  New  Daily  Advertiser,  which  was  started  in  1728.  In 
the  course  of  time  both  these  journals  had  sunk  to  be  little 
more  than  advertising  sheets.  They  gave  hardly  any  news, 
and  they  had  no  political  influence.  The  Public  Advertiser 
was  a  much  more  important  paper.  It  gave  abundance  of 
foreign  and  domestic  intelligence,  it  had  original  con- 
tributions in  prose  and  verse,  and  its  columns  were  always 
open  to  letters  from  correspondents  of  all  kinds  on  all 
manner  of  subjects. 

It  was  not  until  the  first  letter  signed  with  the  signature 
of  Junius  appeared  that  the  paper  assumed  a  serious  po- 
litical imj^ortance.  The  writer,  whoever  he  was,  who  chose 
that  signature  had  written  before  in  the  columns  of  the 
Public  Advertiser.  In  1767  Woodfall,  the  publisher,  re- 
ceived the  first  letter  from  the  correspondent  who  was  to 
become  so  famous,  and  from  time  to  time  other  letters 
came  signed  by  various  names  taken  from  classical  no- 
menclature,  such   as   Mnemon,   Atticus,   Lucius,   Brutus, 

1769.  THE  LETTERS  OF  JUNIUS.  129 

Domitian,  Vindex,  and;,  perhaps,  Poplicola.  But  it  was  with 
the  adoption  of  the  name  of  Junius  that  the  real  impor- 
tance of  the  letters  began.  They  came  at  a  crisis;  they 
spoke  for  the  popular  side;  they  spoke  with  a  bitterness 
and  a  ferocity  that  had  hitherto  not  been  attempted  in 
political  journalism.  The  great  French  writer  Taine  has 
said  that  the  letters  of  Junius,  at  a  time  of  national  irrita- 
tion and  anxiety,  fell  one  by  one  like  drops  of  fire  on  the 
fevered  limbs  of  the  body  politic.  He  goes  on  to  say 
that  if  Junius  made  his  phrases  concise,  and  selected  his 
epithets,  it  was  not  from  a  love  of  style,  but  in  order  the 
better  to  stamp  his  insult.  Oratorical  artifices  in  his  hand 
became  instruments  of  torture,  and  when  he  filed  his 
periods  it  was  to  drive  the  knife  deeper  and  surer,  with  an 
audacity  of  denunciation  and  sternness  of  animosity,  with 
a  corrosive  and  burning  irony  applied  to  the  most  secret 
corners  of  private  life,  with  an  inexorable  persistence  of 
calculated  and  meditated  persecution. 

The  first  few  letters  of  Junius  were  devoted  to  an  alterca- 
tion with  Sir  William  Draper  over  the  character  in  the 
first  place  of  Lord  Granby  and  in  the  second  place  of  Lord 
Granby's  defender,  Sir  William  Draper.  Sir  William, 
though  he  fought  stoutly  for  his  friend  and  stoutly  for 
himself,  did  neither  himself  nor  his  friend  much  good  by 
engaging  in  the  controversy.  He  was  no  match  for  the 
weapons  of  Junius.  He  had  neither  the  wit  nor  the  venom 
of  his  antagonist.  But  the  great  interest  of  the  letters 
began  when  Junius,  taking  up  the  cause  of  Wilkes,  struck 
at  higher  game  than  Sir  William  Draper  or  Lord  Granby. 
His  first  letter  to  the  Duke  of  Grafton  was  an  indictment 
of  the  Duke  for  the  conduct  of  the  Crown  in  the  case  of  a 
murder  trial  arising  out  of  the  Brentford  election.  A 
young  man  named  George  Clarke  had  been  killed  in  a  riot 
and  a  man  named  Edward  M'Quirk  was  tried  and  found 
guilty  of  the  murder.  A  kind  of  hugger-mugger  inquest 
produced  a  declaration  that  Clarke's  death  was  not  caused 
by  the  blow  he  had  received  from  his  assailant,  and  in 
consequence,  "  whereas  a  doubt  had  arisen  in  our  royal 
breast,"  the  King  formally  pardoned  the  murderer  by  royal 

VOL.   III. — 5  ■ 

130  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  l. 

proclamation.  On  this  theme  Junius  lashed  Grafton  and 
concluded  his  letter  with  a  direct  allusion  to  Wilkes.  He 
asked  if  Grafton  had  forgotten,  while  he  was  withdrawing 
this  desperate  wretch  from  that  justice  which  the  laws  had 
awarded  and  which  the  whole  people  of  England  de- 
manded, that  there  was  another  man,  the  favorite  of  his 
country,  whose  pardon  would  have  been  accepted  with 
gratitude,  whose  pardon  would  have  healed  all  divisions. 
"  Have  you  quite  forgotten  that  this  man  was  once  your 
Grace's  friend?  Or  is  it  to  murderers  only  that  you  will 
extend  the  mercy  of  the  Crown?'' 

The  attack  thus  daringly  begun  was  steadily  maintained. 
Wilkes  had  no  keener,  no  acuter  champion  than  Junius. 
With  great  skill  Junius  avoided  all  appearance  of  violent 
partisanship.  He  was  careful  to  censure  much  in  Wilkes's 
conduct,  careful  to  discriminate  between  Wilkes's  private 
character  and  Wilkes's  public  conduct.  The  unjustifiable 
action  of  the  House  of  Commons  in  forcing  Colonel  Lut- 
trell  upon  the  electors  of  Middlesex  gave  Junius  the  op- 
portunity of  assailing  Wilkes's  enemies  without  appearing 
to  champion  Wilkes  to  the  utterance.  Junius  admitted 
that  the  Duke  of  Grafton  might  have  had  some  excuse  in 
his  opposition  to  Wilkes  on  account  of  Wilkes's  character, 
and  might  have  earned  the  approval  of  men  who,  looking 
no  further  than  to  the  object  before  them,  were  not  dissatis- 
fied with  seeing  Mr.  Wilkes  excluded  from  Parliament. 
But,  Junius  went  on  to  argue,  "you  have  now  taken  care 
to  shift  the  question;  or,  rather,  you  have  created  a  new 
one,  in  which  Mr.  Wilkes  is  no  more  concerned  than  any 
other  English  gentleman.  You  have  united  the  country 
against  you  on  one  grand  constitutional  point,  on  the  de- 
cision of  which  our  existence  as  a  free  people  absolutely 
depends.  You  have  asserted,  not  in  words  but  in  fact,  that 
representation  in  Parliament  does  not  depend  upon  the 
choice  of  the  freeholders." 

The  authorship  of  the  letters  of  Junius  is  one  of  those 
problems,  like  the  problems  of  the  identity  of  the  Man  in 
the  Iron  Mask,  which  have  never  been  settled  with  abso- 
lute certainty  and  which  probably  never  will  be  settled 

17C9.  THE   TDEXTITY  OF   JUNIUS.  131 

with  absolute  certainty.  But  between  absolute  certainty 
and  the  highest  degree  of  probability  there  is  no  very  great 
gulf  fixed,  and  it  is  in  the  highest  degree  probable  that 
the  author  of  the  letters  was  Philip  Francis.  The  letters 
have  been  attributed  to  all  manner  of  men.  They  were 
ascribed,  absurdly  enough,  to  Wilkes.  Wilkes  could  write 
bitterly  and  he  could  write  well,  but  he  could  write  neither 
so  w^ell  nor  so  bitterly  as  Mr.  WoodfalFs  correspondent. 
Dr.  Johnson,  who  ought  to  have  known  better,  thought 
they  were  written  by  Burke.  It  is  his  excuse  that  there 
did  not  seem  at  the  time  any  man  of  the  same  ability  as 
the  writer  of  the  letters  except  Burke.  But  Dr.  Johnson, 
who  had  been  quick  enough  to  recognize  the  genius  of  the 
anonymous  author  of  the  essay  on  "  The  Sublime  and  the 
Beautiful,"  erred  when  he  thought  that  the  same  hand 
penned  the  anonymous  letters.  The  prose  of  Burke  was 
as  far  above  the  prose  of  Junius  as  the  prose  of  Junius  was 
above  the  prose  of  Wilkes.  None  of  the  letters  surpasses 
in  ferocity,  none  approaches  in  excellence  the  letter  which 
Burke  wrote  to  the  noble  Duke  who  had  slandered  him. 
The  letters  were  attributed  to  Barre;  they  were  attributed 
to  Lee,  who  was  yet  to  earn  another  kind  of  fame;  they 
were  attributed  to  many  hands.  To  us,  at  least,  it  seems 
clear  that  they  were  the  work  of  Philip  Francis. 

The  electors  of  Middlesex  did  petition  against  the  sub- 
stitution of  the  despised  Luttrell  for  the  adored  Wilkes. 
The  consideration  of  the  petition  was  the  occasion  for  one 
of  the  most  memorable  debates  that  can  be  recorded  of 
an  age  rich  in  memorable  debates.  On  the  one  side  the 
influence  of  the  Ministry  and  the  influence  of  the  King 
induced  Blackstone  to  deny  himself  and  to  falsify  those 
principles  of  constitutional  law  with  which  his  name  is 
associated.  On  the  other  side  principles  as  little  honorable 
but  a  far  acuter  political  perception  urged  Wedderburn, 
who  was  nominally  a  King's  man,  to  go  over  to  the  popular 
cause  with  the  air  of  a  Coriolanus.  On  the  one  side 
Fletcher  Norton  upheld  the  authority  of  the  resolution. 
On  the  other  side  George  Grenville  argued  against  it  with 
an  acumen  which  showed  that  an  able  lawyer  might  have 

132  A   HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  l. 

been  a  great  lawyer.  In  that  famous  debate  Burke  spoke 
at  his  best,  and  yet  the  event  of  that  debate  was  not  the 
speech  of  Burke,  was  not  the  speech  of  the  experienced 
politician,  of  the  seasoned  statesman,  of  the  famous  man 
of  letters,  but  the  speech  of  a  young  man  who  was  almost 
a  boy,  the  speech  of  Charles  James  Fox.  All  who  have 
written  on  the  debate  agree  in  their  admiration  of  the 
speech  of  one  who,  as  far  as  Parliament  was  concerned, 
was  but  a  raw  lad  and  who  nevertheless  held  his  own 
on  a  point  of  law  against  experienced  lawyers,  in  states- 
manship against  Grenville,  and  in  eloquence  against 

Of  course  the  petition  of  Middlesex  was  rejected;  the 
election  of  Luttrell  was  confirmed.  On  the  day  of  the 
confirmation  the  King  prorogued  Parliament  in  a  foolish 
speech  in  which  he  seemed  to  think  that  he  had  gained  a 
victory.  But  if  the  King  and  the  Ministry  believed  or 
hoped  that  in  expelling  Wilkes  from  Parliament  they  had 
got  rid  of  Wilkes  for  good  and  all;  if  they  believed  or 
hoped  that  in  thus  degrading  Wilkes  they  would  deprive 
him  of  his  popularit}^  with  the  people  or  even  diminish 
that  popularity,  they  were  speedily  to  be  undeceived  and 
bitterly  disappointed.  Both  King  and  ministers  knew 
their  business  very  badly;  with  limitations  of  intelligence 
which  would  have  been  disastrous  to  the  conduct  of  a 
small  shop,  they  came  in  this  instance,  as  in  other  in- 
stances, within  measurable  distance  of  wrecking  a  royalty. 
It  is  probable  that  Franklin,  shrewd,  cool  observer  though 
he  was,  went  too  far  wiien  he  wrote  in  his  journal  that  if 
George  the  Third  had  had  a  bad  private  character,  and 
John  Wilkes  a  good  one,  the  latter  might  have  turned  the 
former  out  of  his  kingdom.  But  it  is  certain  that  the 
signs  of  the  King's  unpopularity  were  now  as  significant 
as  were  the  signs  of  Wilkes's  popularity.  It  had  been  said 
that  at  this  time  a  good  half  of  the  King's  subjects  pre- 
ferred Wilkes  to  their  King.  The  estimate  is  probably 
under  rather  than  above  the  fact.  Wilkes  was  placed  in 
the  position  of  being  the  champion  of  all  the  rights  and 
liberties  that  Englishmen  most  prized;  the  King  in  the 


position  of  being  their  most  uncompromising,  most  obsti- 
nate opponent. 

Thus,  while  honors  were  offered  daily  to  the  prisoner  of 
the  King's  bench,  insults  were  daily  offered  to  his  royal 
enemy.  The  King  could  scarcely  go  abroad  without  be- 
coming the  object  of  a  demonstration  of  popular  disfavor, 
and  even  in  his  palace  he  could  not  escape  from  deputa- 
tions empowered  to  protest  against  the  conduct  of  his 
ministers.  In  all  parts  of  the  kingdom  public  meetings 
were  held,  and  from  these  public  meetings  petitions  poured 
in  upon  the  King  calling  upon  him  to  dissolve  his  Parlia- 
ment. It  has  been  truly  observed  that  the  custom 
of  holding  public  meetings  for  the  discussion  of 
public  grievances  dates  from  this  period.  On  two 
solemn  occasions  the  Lord  Mayor  of  London,  accom- 
panied by  the  sheriffs,  presented  addresses  to  the  King 
remonstrating  against  the  action  of  the  House  of  Com- 
mons. To  the  first  address  the  King  replied  that  it  was 
disrespectful  to  him,  injurious  to  Parliament,  and  irrecon- 
cilable to  the  principles  of  the  Constitution.  After  which 
reply  he  could  think  of  nothing  better,  nothing  more 
kingly  to  do  than  to  turn  round  to  his  courtiers  and  burst 
out  laughing.  He  treated  the  second  address  with  the 
same  insolence,  an  insolence  which  provoked  from  the 
Lord  Mayor  an  uncourtierly  reply  which  reminded  the 
King  that  those  who  endeavored  to  alienate  the  King's 
affections  from  his  subjects  were  violators  of  the  public 
peace  and  betrayers  of  the  Constitution  established  by  the 
glorious  Revolution.  Those  words  were  afterwards  in- 
scribed in  gold  upon  the  monument  of  the  mayor  who 
spoke  them.  If  those  words,  and  words  of  like  purport 
and  temper,  at  first  moved  the  King  to  laughter,  they  soon 
exasperated  him  past  laughing.  Once  he  clapped  his  hand 
to  his  sword-hilt  and  declared  that  he  would  sooner  have 
recourse  to  that  than  grant  a  dissolution.  The  tension  of 
public  feeling  can  best  be  estimated  when  a  constitutional 
sovereign  on  the  one  side  could  dare  to  make  such  a  re- 
mark; when  a  representative  of  the  people  like  Colonel 
Barre  on  the  other  side  could  dare  in  the  House  of  Com- 

134  A  HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  l. 

mons  to  say  that  disregard  of  public  petitions  might  lead 
the  people  to  think  of  assassination. 

While  the  King  was  insulted  and  insulting,  and  longing 
to  stifle  opposition  by  the  sword,  John  Wilkes  in  his  prison 
was  receiving  new  proofs  of  the  place  he  held  in  public 
affection.  He  was  elected  alderman  for  the  Ward  of  Far- 
ringdon  Without.  We  are  told  that  his  table  at  the  prison 
was  daily  supplied  with  the  most  rare  and  costly  delica- 
cies, presented  to  him  by  his  admirers.  The  mysterious 
Chevalier  d'Eon  sent  him  a  present  of  Russian  smoked 
tongues,  with  the  whimsical  wish  that  they  could  have  the 
eloquence  of  Cicero,  and  the  delicacy  of  Voltaire,  to  do 
him  honor.  Friendly  revellers  sent  him  hampers  of  the 
wine  he  liked  the  best.  More  serious  gifts  were  laid  at 
his  feet.  For  a  while  money  literally  rained  in  upon  him. 
The  leading  Whigs  provided  him  with  an  income.  Nobles 
and  great  ladies  sent  him  large  sums.  A  number  of  poli- 
ticians banded  together  under  the  title  of  the  Society  for 
Supporting  the  Bill  of  Eights,  and  raised  a  great  deal  of 
money,  much  of  which  went  in  meeting  some  of  the  heavy 
debts  with  which  Wilkes  was  embarrassed,  much  of  which 
went  in  keeping  wp  the  princely  way  of  living  which  suited 
Wilkes's  temperament,  and  which  was  perhaps  not  un- 
suited  to  the  part  he  was  playing  as  the  rival  of  a  prince. 
In  the  public  press,  on  the  platform,  on  the  stage,  his  in- 
fluence was  enormous.  His  good  pleasure  sent  politicians 
to  Parliament;  his  good  pleasure  made  London  sheriffs, 
made  provincial  mayors.  While  the  false  rumor  that  he 
was  the  author  of  "  The  Letters  of  Junius  "  only  swelled 
the  volume  of  his  fame,  the  author  of  those  letters  was 
adding  to  Wilkes's  pride  and  power  by  public  champion- 
ship and  by  private  letters,  choking  with  an  adulation  that 
seems  strange  indeed  from  so  savage  a  pen.  If  Garrick 
dared  for  a  moment  to  run  counter  to  popular  feeling,  as 
a  little  earlier  he  had  dared  to  disdain  the  praise  of 
Churchill,  he  had  to  give  way  in  the  case  of  Wilkes,  as  he 
had  given  way  in  the  case  of  Wilkes's  poet.  The  very  name 
of  Wilkes  drove  men  on  both  sides  of  the  quarrel  into  a 
kind  of  frenzy.     Alexander   Cruden,  of  the   "  Concord- 

1110.  A   FIGHT  FOR  LIBERTY   OF   THE  PRESS.  135 

ance,'*  showed  his  devotion  to  his  King  and  his  dislike  of 
Wilkes  by  carrying  a  large  sponge  with  him  w^henever  he 
walked  abroad  in  order  that  he  might  wipe  out  the  omi- 
nous number,  forty-five,  w^henever  he  saw  it  chalked  up.  As 
the  number  was  chalked  up  everywhere  by  the  Wilkites, 
Cruden  soon  found  the  task  beyond  his  powers.  It  was 
lucky  for  him  that  he  got  no  harm  in  his  zeal,  lucky  for 
him  that  he  did  not  come  across  that  militant  clergyman 
who  pulled  the  nose  of  a  Scotch  naval  officer  for  attacking 
Wilkes  and  then  met  his  man  in  Hyde  Park  and  wounded 

On  April  17,  1770,  Wilkes's  term  of  imprisonment  came 
to  an  end.  Wilkes  immediately  started  for  Bath  to  avoid 
a  demonstration  in  London;  but  London  was  illuminated 
in  his  honor,  and  in  a  great  number  of  provincial  towns 
his  release  was  celebrated  with  all  the  signs  of  a  national 
holiday.  If  he  had  been  a  hero  in  prison,  he  was  no  less 
a  hero  out  of  it.  He  moved  from  triumph  to  triumph. 
AVhile  alderman  he  w^on  a  victory  over  the  Court  and  the 
Commons  which  did  much  to  establish  the  liberty  of  the 
press  in  England.  The  House  of  Commons,  in  a  foolish 
attempt  to  suppress  reports  of  the  debates  in  Parliament, 
tried  to  arrest  certain  printers.  Wilkes  and  the  Lord 
Mayor  took  the  printers'  part;  advised  them  to  conceal 
themselves ;  and  in  their  turn  arrested  those  who,  in  obedi- 
ence to  a  royal  proclamation  and  the  orders  of  the  House, 
arrested  the  printers. 

The  House  of  Commons  committed  the  Lord  Mayor  and 
Alderman  Oliver  to  the  Tower,  and  summoned  Wilkes  to 
appear  at  the  bar.  Wilkes  coolly  replied  that  as  he  was 
a  member  of  Parliament,  and  as  he  was  not  addressed  as 
a  member  of  Parliament  should  be,  and  ordered  to  attend 
in  his  place  according  to  custom,  he  should  ignore  the 
summons.  The  House  made  a  second  and  yet  a  third  order 
for  his  appearance,  each  of  which  Wilkes  treated  with  dis- 
dain. It  is  a  significant  proof  of  the  power  of  Wilkes's 
popularity  that  the  House  did  not  take  any  steps  to  punish 
his  contumacy.  While  it  affected  to  find  a  consolation  in 
the  assurances  of  the  King  that  Wilkes  was  "  below  the 

136  A   HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  l. 

notice  of  the  House/'  it  had  to  endure  as  best  it  might  an 
affront  resentment  of  which  would  only  have  added  to 
Wilkes's  popularity.  The  honors  paid  to  the  Lord  Mayor 
and  the  alderman  during  their  imprisonment  showed  only 
too  plainly  that  hostility  to  the  Court  and  the  Parliamen- 
tary majority  was  heroism  in  the  eyes  of  the  majority  of 
the  citizens  of  London. 

Once  again  Wilkes  had  won  the  day.  From  that  time 
forward  Parliament  put  no  embargo  upon  the  publication 
of  reports  of  its  debates.  Fresh  honors  were  showered  on 
Wilkes.  He  was  elected  sheriff.  He  was  presented  by  the 
Court  of  Common  Council  with  a  silver  goblet,  designed 
according  to  his  own  w^sh  with  a  representation  of  the 
death  of  Caesar,  and  graced  with  the  ominous  motto  from 
one  of  the  poems  of  Churchill: 

May  every  tyrant  feel 
The  keen  deep  searchings  of  a  patriot  steel, 

a  citation  which,  taken  in  conjunction  with  Barre's  wild 
talk  in  the  House  about  assassination,  was  sufficiently  sig- 
nificant of  the  temper  of  the  time. 

Wilkes  had  been  alderman;  he  had  been  sheriff;  he  w^as 
now  to  bear  the  crown  of  civic  honors.  He  was  put  in 
nomination  for  the  office  of  Lord  Mayor.  The  Court  party 
made  a  desperate  effort  to  defeat  him.  They  had  tried  and 
failed  to  prevent  him  from  being  elected  to  Parliament. 
They  had  tried  and  failed  to  prevent  him  from  being  made 
alderman,  from  being  made  sheriff.  They  now  tried  with  all 
their  might  to  prevent  him  from  being  made  Lord  Mayor. 
Wilkes  had  much  to  fight  against.  There  were  defections 
from  his  own  party.  The  once  devoted  Home  had  squab- 
bled with  his  idol  over  money  matters,  and  was  now  as  ven- 
omous an  enemy  as  he  had  been  a  fulsome  partisan.  Alder- 
man Townshend,  an  ex-Lord  Mayor,  strained  all  his  influ- 
ence, which  was  great  in  the  City,  against  Wilkes.  A  wild 
rumor  got  about  at  one  time,  indeed,  that  Townshend  had 
settled  the  difficulty  of  the  Court  forever  by  challenging 
Wilkes  and  shooting  him  dead.  The  story  had  no  founda- 
tion, but  for  a  moment  it  flattered  the  hopes  of  Wilkes's 

1774.  WILKES   LORD   MAYOR   OF    LONDON.  137 

enemies  and  fluttered  the  hearts  of  Wilkes's  friends.  The 
opposition  ended  as  opposition  to  Wilkes  always  ended. 
Twice  he  was  placed  at  the  head  of  the  poll,  and  twice  the 
Court  of  Aldermen  chose  another  candidate.  The  third 
time,  in  the  election  of  1774,  Wilkes  was  at  last  chosen 
as  Lord  Mayor  hy  the  Court  of  Aldermen  in  despite  of  the 
unwearied  efforts  of  the  Court  party  to  defeat  him. 
"  Thus,"  wrote  Walpole,  "  after  so  much  persecution  by 
the  Court,  after  so  many  attempts  upon  his  life,  after  a 
long  imprisonment  in  jail,  after  all  his  own  crimes  and 
indiscretions,  did  this  extraordinary  man,  of  more  extraor- 
dinary fortune,  attain  the  highest  office  in  so  grave  and 
important  a  city  as  the  capital  of  England,  always  reviving 
the  more  opposed  and  oppressed,  and  unable  to  shock 
Fortune  and  make  her  laugh  at  him  who  laughed  at  every- 
body and  everything  !"  It  has  been  well  said  by  Mr.  Fraser 
Kae  that  the  siErnificance  of  election  to  the  office  of  Lord 
]\Iayor  was  very  much  greater  more  than  a  hundred  years 
ago  than  it  is  now.  Then  the  Chief  Magistrate  of  the 
City  was  not  necessarily  a  man  who  had  passed  through 
certain  minor  offices  and  who  rose  by  routine  to  fill  the 
highest.  At  that  time  the  Corporation  was  a  political 
power,  which  ministers  had  to  take  into  account,  and 
which  sovereigns  had  to  propitiate.  A  greater  triumph 
than  the  mayoralty  followed  in  quick  succession.  At  the 
general  election  of  1774  Wilkes  came  forward  again,  and 
for  the  fifth  time,  as  candidate  for  ]\Iiddlesex.  This  time 
he  was  not  opposed-  Luttrell  abandoned  an  impossible 
position  and  did  not  stand.  Ten  years  after  Wilkes's  first 
appearance  in  the  House  of  Commons  he  returned  to  it 
again  in  triumph  as  the  member  for  Middlesex  and  the 
Lord  Mayor  of  London. 

And  here,  on  the  top  of  his  triumph,  Wilkes  may  be 
said  to  drop  through  the  tissue  of  our  history.  He  was 
to  live  nearly  a  quarter  of  a  century  longer,  three-and- 
twenty  years  of  a  life  that  was  as  calm  and  peaceful  as  the 
hot  manhood  that  preceded  it  had  been  vexed  and  unquiet. 
Although  he  lives  in  history  as  one  of  the  most  famous  of 
the  world's  agitators,  he  had  in  his  heart  little  affection 

138  A   niSTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  cu  l. 

for  the  life  of  a  public  man.  And  the  publicity  of  the 
civic  official  was  especially  distasteful  to  him.  He  hated 
the  gross  festivals,  the  gross  pleasures,  the  gross  display 
of  City  life.  He  sickened  of  the  long  hours  spent  in  the 
business  of  mayoralty;  he  sickened  yet  more  of  the 
pleasures  incidental  to  mayoralty.  Though  he  remained 
in  Parliament  for  many  years,  and  conducted  himself  there 
with  zeal,  discretion,  and  statesmanship,  and  always,  or 
almost  always,  proved  himself  to  be  the  champion  of  lib- 
erty and  the  democratic  principle,  he  did  not  find  his 
greatest  happiness  in  public  speeches  and  the  triumphs  and 
defeats  of  the  division  lobby.  What  he  loved  best  on  earth 
was  the  society  of  his  daughter,  between  whom  and  him- 
self there  existed  a  friendship  that  is  the  best  advocate  for 
Wilkes's  character.  And  he  loved  best  to  enjoy  that  so- 
ciety in  the  kind  of  sham  classic  retirement  which  had  so 
powerful  an  attraction  for  so  many  of  the  men  of  the 
eighteenth  century.  His  cottage  in  the  Isle  of  Wight,  with 
its  Doric  column  to  the  manes  of  Churchill,  with  its  shrine 
to  Fortuna  Eedux,  was  his  idea  of  the  ancient  city  of 

His  tastes  and  pleasures  were  the  tastes  and  pleasures 
of  a  man  of  letters.  He  affected  a  curious  kind  of  scholar- 
ship. The  hand  that  had  been  employed  upon  the  North 
Briton  now  devoted  itself  to  the  editing  of  classic  texts; 
the  intellect  that  had  been  associated  with  the  privately 
printed  "  Essay  on  Woman  '^  was  now  associated  with  pri- 
vately printed  editions  of  Catullus  which  he  fondly  be- 
lieved to  be  flawless,  and  of  Theophrastus,  whose  Greek 
text  it  pleased  him  to  print  without  accents.  In  his  tran- 
quil old  age  he  made  himself  as  many  friends  as  in  his 
hot  manhood  he  had  made  himself  enemies.  Those  who 
had  most  hated  him  came  under  the  spell  of  his  attraction, 
even  the  King  himself,  even  Dr.  Johnson.  His  interview 
with  Dr.  Johnson  is  one  of  the  most  famous  episodes  in 
the  literary  and  political  history  of  the  last  century.  His 
assurance  to  King  George  that  he  himself  had  never  been 
a  Wilkite  is  in  one  sense  the  truest  criticism  that  has  ever 
been  passed  upon  him.     If  to  be  a  Wilkite  was  to  enter- 

1797.  DEATH   OF  WILKES.  I39 

tain  all  the  advanced  and  all  the  wild  ideas  expressed  by 
many  of  those  who  took  advantage  of  his  agitation,  then 
certainly  Wilkes  was  none  such.  But  he  was  a  Wilkite  in 
the  better  sense  of  being  true  to  his  own  opinions  and  true 
to  his  sense  of  public  duty.  When  he  expressed  the  wish 
to  have  the  words  "  A  friend  to  liberty  "  inscribed  upon 
his  monument,  he  expressed  a  wish  which  the  whole  tenor 
of  his  life,  the  whole  tone  of  his  utterances  fully  justified. 
And  if  he  was  loyal  to  his  principles  he  could  be  chivalrous 
to  his  enemies.  Almost  his  last  public  appearance  was  at 
the  general  election  of  1796,  when  he  came  forward,  with 
a  magnanimity  which  would  have  well  become  many  a 
better  man,  to  support  the  candidature  of  Home  Tooke 
at  Westminster,  of  the  man  who,  after  having  been  his 
fawning  friend,  his  fulsome  flatterer,  had  turned  against 
him  with  the  basest  treachery  and  the  bitterest  malignity. 
There  may  have  been,  surely  there  must  have  been,  a  vein 
of  irony  in  the  words  in  which  Wilkes  complimented  the 
apostate  and  the  turncoat  as  a  man  of  public  virtues.  But 
the  irony  was  cloaked  b}^  courtesy;  if  the  action  smacked 
of  the  cynic,  at  least  it  was  done  in  obedience  to  the  behest 
to  forgive  our  enemies. 

On  ISTovember  28,  1797,  the  old,  worn,  weary  man,  who 
had  worked  so  hard  and  done  so  much,  welcomed,  in  his 
capacity  of  Chamberlain  of  the  City  of  London,  Admiral 
Sir  Horatio  Xelson  to  the  honorary  freedom  of  the  City. 
The  setting  star  saluted  the  rising  star.  Xelson  was 
then  thirty-nine.  He  had  been  at  sea  since  he  was  twelve. 
He  had  voyaged  in  polar  seas  and  tropic  waters.  He  had 
fought  the  Americans.  He  had  fought  the  French.  "  Hate 
a  Frenchman  as  you  would  the  devil "  was  his  simple- 
minded  counsel  of  perfection.  He  had  fought  the  Span- 
iards. He  had  lost  an  eve  at  Calvi.  He  had  lost  an  arm 
at  Santa  Cruz.  He  was  ten  vears  married.  His  love,  his 
error,  his  glory,  Emma  Hamilton,  Carracioli,  Trafalgar, 
were  vet  to  come. 

Less  than  a  month  later,  in  the  late  December,  1797, 
John  Wilkes  was  dead.  He  was  seventy  years  old.  For 
nearly  forty  years  he  had  lived  unknown,  unheeded.     For 

140  A   HISTORY  OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  l. 

ten  years  he  was  the  most  conspicuous  man  in  England, 
the  best  hated  and  the  best  loved.  For  twenty  years  more 
he  was  an  honored  public  and  private  citizen.  He  will 
always  be  remembered  as  one  of  the  most  remarkable  men 
of  a  century  of  remarkable  men. 

1749-68.  A  CHAMPION   OF  POPULAR  RIGHTS.  141 



.  One  of  the  most  immediate  results  of  the  Wilkes  con- 
troversy in  the  House  of  Commons  was  to  draw  atten- 
tion to  a  young  man  who  had  entered  Parliament  at  the 
General  Election  of  1768  while  he  was  still  considerably 
under  age.  The  young  member  for  Midhurst  made  him- 
self conspicuous  as  the  most  impassioned  opponent  of 
Wilkes.  A  strenuous  supporter  of  Luttrell  outside  the 
walls  of  Westminster,  inside  those  walls  the  boy  who  repre- 
sented the  fictitious  constituency  of  Midhurst  distinguished 
himself  by  the  easy  insolence  with  which  he  assailed  Wilkes 
and  the  popular  cause  which  Wilkes  represented.  He  de- 
lighted in  informing  the  delighted  majority  in  the  House 
that  he,  for  his  part,  "  paid  no  regard  whatever  to  the 
voice  of  the  people."  When  Burke  condescended  to  notice 
and  to  rebuke  the  impertinence  of  a  youth  of  nineteen, 
he  little  thought  that  the  lad  whom  he  reproved  would 
come  to  be  a  far  more  extreme  advocate  of  popular  rights 
than  he  himself,  or  that  the  chronicle  of  the  century  in 
recording  the  names  of  those  who  made  themselves  promi- 
nent for  the  utterance  of  democratic  opinions  should  place 
the  name  of  John  Wilkes  far  below  the  name  of  Charles 
James  Fox. 

It  would  not  be  easy  to  imagine  a  worse  training  for  a 
youth  intended  for  the  service  of  his  country  and  des- 
tined to  contend  for  the  honors  of  the  State  than  the  life 
that  was  lived  by  Charles  James  Fox  from  early  boyhood 
to  early  manhood.  It  was  not  in  the  power  of  his  father, 
Henry  Fox,  Lord  Holland,  to  set  before  his  son  the  example 
of  a  parent  whose  public  life  was  pure,  admirable,  and 
honorable.     But  in  the  domestic  circle  Lord  Holland  was 

142  A   HISTORY   OF   THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  u. 

a  very  different  man  from  the  corrupt  and  juggling 
politician  known  to  the  world.  In  the  domestic  circle  his 
affections  and  his  tendernesses  were  his  most  conspicuous 
traits,  and  in  the  domestic  circle  he  w^as  as  unfortunate 
for  his  children  through  his  very  virtues  as  outside  it  he 
was  unfortunate  by  reason  of  his  vices.  Fox  was  a  loving 
husband,  but  he  was  an  adoring  father,  and  the  extremcst 
zeal  and  warmth  of  his  adoration  was  given  to  his  son 
Charles  James.  The  child  was  from  the  first  precocious, 
alert,  and  gifted  beyond  his  years,  and  the  father  fostered 
and  flattered  the  precocity  with  a  kind  of  worship  that 
proved,  as  it  was  bound  to  prove,  disastrous.  It  seems  to 
have  been  Henry  Fox's  deliberate  belief  that  the  best  way 
to  bring  up  a  spirited,  gifted,  headstrong  child  was  to 
gratify  every  wish,  surrender  to  every  whim,  and  pander 
to  every  passion  that  ebullient  youth  could  feel.  The  anec- 
dotes of  the  day  teem  with  tales  of  the  fantastic  homage 
that  Fox  paid  to  the  desires  and  moods  of  his  imperious 
infant.  He  made  him  his  companion  while  he  was  still  in  the 
nursery ;  he  allow^ed  him  to  be  his  master  before  he  had  fair- 
ly left  it.  Never  was  the  creed  of  Thelema  acted  upon  more 
consistently  and  persistently  than  by  Lord  Holland  towards 
Charles  James  Fox.  It  is  an  astonishing  proof  of  the 
strength  and  innate  goodness  of  the  childish  nature  that 
it  was  not  ruined  outright,  hopelessly  and  helplessly,  by 
the  worst  training  ever  given  to  a  son  by  a  father.  That 
it  did  Fox  infinite  harm  cannot  be  denied  and  was  only  to 
be  expected.  That  it  failed  entirely  to  unbalance  his  mind 
and  destroy  his  character  only  serves  to  show  the  sterling 
temper  of  Fox's  metal.  His  youth  was  like  his  childhood, 
petted,  spoiled,  wayward,  capricious,  and  captivating. 
Every  one  loved  him,  his  father,  his  father's  friends,  the 
school  companions  with  whom  he  wrote  Latin  verses  in 
praise  of  lovely  ladies  with  lovely  names.  All  through  his 
life  the  love  of  men  and  the  love  of  women  was  given  to 
him  with  a  generosity  that  was  only  equal  to  the  lovable 
nature  that  compelled  and  commanded  it.  His  career  is 
one  record  of  unrivalled  precocity.  As  a  child  he  had  been 
his  father's  friend  rather  than  his  father's  plaything;  as  a 

1768.  FOX'S  SCHOLARSHIP.  143 

lad  he  was  his  father's  travelling  companion,  and  learned 
from  that  father  the  pleasant  art  of  sowing  wild  oats  not 
with  the  hand  but  with  the  whole  sack.  He  returned  to 
England  a  proficient  gambler,  a  finished  rake,  the  dear 
friend  of  famous  men,  the  darling  of  beautiful  women,  to 
enter,  before  he  was  of  age,  upon  that  political  career  in 
which  it  seemed  certain  that  if  he  would  follow  in  his 
father's  steps  he  might  hope  for  more  than  his  father's 
fortunes.  If  Charles  Fox  had  been  quite  cankered  by  his 
father's  care,  if  the  essence  of  his  genius  had  been  corrupt- 
ible, he  might  have  given  the  King's  friends  a  leader  as 
far  removed  from  them  as  Lucifer  from  his  satellites,  and 
contrived  perhaps — though  that  indeed  would  have  been 
diflficult — to  amass  almost  as  much  money  as  he  was  able 
to  spend  with  comfort.  To  judge  by  the  young  man's 
initial  enterprise,  his  Parliamentary  career  promised  to 
be  as  brilliant  and  as  brutal  as  any  king  who  hated 
Chatham  and  hated  Wilkes  and  hated  the  American  colo- 
nies could  possibly  desire.  The  furious  intolerance  of  his 
maiden  speech  was  happily,  however,  only  like  that  false 
dawn  familiar  to  travellers  in  the  East.  The  true  sunrise 
was  yet  to  come.  But  for  six  years  he  was  as  consistent 
in  his  support  of  Lord  North  and  the  policy  that  North 
represented  as  for  the  rest  of  his  career  he  was  consistent  in 
opposition  to  it. 

The  life  of  Fox  recalls,  in  its  brilliant  activity,  in  its 
no  less  brilliant  scholarship,  the  dazzling  careers  of  some 
of  those  Italian  princes  who  were  equally  at  home  and 
equally  distinguished  in  the  battlefield  and  in  the  library, 
equally  happy  in  handling  their  weapons  or  in  turning  the 
pages  of  the  latest  volume  from  the  presses  of  Aldus  that 
renewed  the  youth  of  some  masterpiece  of  Greece  or  Rome. 
Fox's  scholarship  would  have  been  remarkable  in  a  man 
whose  days  and  nights  were  devoted  to  scholarship  alone. 
It  was  little  less  than  marvellous  in  a  man  who  gave  a 
large  part  of  his  days  to  the  fiercest  political  fights  of 
a  fiercely  political  age  and  a  large  part  of  his  nights  to 
the  fascination  of  the  card-table,  the  disasters  of  the  dice- 
box,  and  the  pursuit  of  the  sweet,  elusive  shadow  which  is 

144  A  HISTUKY   OF   THE   hVlli  GEORGES.  ch.  li. 

called  pleasure.  Fox's  love  for  literature  was  indeed  its 
own  reward.  In  the  darkest  hours  of  a  life  that  tasted  the 
bitterness  of  many  public  and  many  private  sorrows  he 
could  steep  his  vexed  spirit  in  the  sweet  waters  watched 
by  the  ]\Iuses,  and  arise  cleansed,  inspirited,  and  comforted. 
Though  he  saw  those  public  honors  that  his  genius  de- 
served denied,  though  he  lost  those  chances  of  command  by 
which  he  could  best  have  served  his  country,  though  his 
own  fault  wrecked  his  fortune  and  his  own  follies  wasted 
his  substance  and  delivered  the  home  of  his  glorious  youth 
into  alien  hands,  he  could  turn  from  troubles  that  would 
have  broken  the  spirit  and  cracked  the  heart  of  a  less 
heroic  fighter,  to  find  solace  and  consolation  in  the  golden 
music  of  the  "  Odyssey "  and  the  majestic  cadences  of 

Fox  loved  the  classics  with  the  passion  of  a  poet,  not 
with  the  patience  of  a  pedant,  and  found  that  noble  rapt- 
ure in  the  human  beauty  of  Euripides  which  Parson 
Adams  found  in  the  divine  grandeur  of  Aeschylus.  But  if 
his  reading  in  the  literatures  of  Greece  and  Rome  was  wide 
and  deep,  it  was  not  limited  to  the  literatures  which  the 
world  calls  classic.  France,  Italy,  Spain,  offered  him 
their  best,  and  found  him  a  worthy  worshipper,  the  faith- 
ful lover  and  loyal  student  of  all  that  was  best  in  each. 
He  was  the  comrade  of  Don  Quixote  as  he  was  the  com- 
rade of  Orlando  Furioso  and  the  comrade  of  G-il  Bias. 
But  he  was  never  one  of  those  who  exalt  the  laurels  of  other 
lands  to  the  neglect  of  those  of  their  own.  He  knew  Eng- 
lish literature  and  loved  English  literature  as  well  as  if 
he  had  never  scanned  a  Latin  line  or  conjugated  a  Greek 
verb  or  read  a  page  of  Moliere,  or  Calderon,  or  Metastasio. 
He  knew  Chaucer  as  well  as  it  was  possible  for  any  one 
then  or  for  generations  later  to  know  Chaucer,  and  he 
appreciated  him  as  few  have  appreciated  him  before  or 
since.  The  poets  of  his  own  time  were  as  dear  to  him  in 
their  degree  as  the  singer  of  England's  morning  song. 
It  is  hardly  necessary  to  say  that  he  was  as  familiar  with 
Shakespeare  as  every  one  should  be  and  as  very  few  arc- 
Only  one  arc  was  wanting  to  the  circle  of  his  splendid 

1768.  FOX'S   QUARREL    WITH   LORD   NORTH.  145 

culture,  only  one  string  was  lacking  to  the  bow  of  his  pro- 
digious reading.  There  was  a  great  literature  growing  up 
in  a  neighboring  country  of  which  Charles  Fox  knew  noth- 
ing, and  of  which  we  cannot  doubt  that  he  would  have  re- 
joiced to  know  much.  It  is  curious  that  in  a  country  which 
had  been  ruled  for  three  successive  reigns  by  German 
sovereigns,  the  German  language  was  entirely  neglected 
and  the  glorious  dawn  of  German  literature  entirely 
ignored.  While  Fox  was  still  a  young  man,  playing  at  love, 
playing  at  cards,  playing  at  politics,  and  through  all  these 
diversions  adding  to  that  mighty  store  of  learning,  and 
training  his  mind  in  the  finest  and  most  intimate  judg- 
ments upon  the  Greek  and  Roman  poets,  Germany  had  been 
enriched  by  the  masterpiece  of  the  greatest  critic  since 
Aristotle,  and  was  fostering  the  golden  youth  of  the  great- 
est poet  since  Shakespeare.  It  would  have  amazed  Fox, 
as  it  would  have  amazed  everv  Enorlish  scholar  then  liv- 
ing,  if  he  could  have  been  told  that  the  spirit  of  the  an- 
tique world  was  to  be  renewed  in  a  country  which  had 
given  them  four  generations  of  phlegmatic  princes,  and 
in  a  language  of  which  few  scholars  in  England  knew  a 
single  word. 

Fox^s  term  of  adherence  to  North  and  to  North's  policy 
was  not  too  happy  a  time  for  the  nominal  superior.  A 
hot-headed  young  Lord  of  the  Admiralty  resigned  his 
office  in  a  huff,  and  was  not  without  difficulty  persuaded 
to  return  to  office  as  Commissioner  of  the  Treasury.  The 
breach  between  Fox  and  North  was  bridged  over,  but  the 
bridge  was  frail.  The  two  men  eyed  each  other  with  dis- 
favor. Fox  asserted  his  independence  by  occasionally 
voting  against  the  minister,  by  consorting  with  Burke. 
After  the  death  of  Lord  Holland,  North  revenged  himself 
by  dismissing  Fox  from  office  in  a  letter  famous  for  its 
insolent  brevity.  For  a  time  Fox  still  accorded  to  the 
ministry  an  uncertain  support,  but  he  was  drifting  in 
thought  and  speech  and  action  in  the  inevitable  direction 
of  his  genius.  The  hour  came  when  he  took  his  seat  on 
the  Opposition  benches,  and  asserted  himself  as  a  formi- 

146  A   HISTORY   OF   THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  li. 

dable  opponent  of  the  Government.  A  quarrel  across  the 
Atlantic  gave  him  the  opportunity  to  prove  that  the  prin- 
ciples which  men  of  to-day  would  call  Liberal  principles 
had  gained  one  of  their  greatest  and  one  of  their  most 
eloquent  champions 

1765-74.  LORD   HILLSBOROUGH.  147 


ON"   THE   CHARLES   RIVER.     - 

While  the  battle  had  been  raging  over  Wilkes  at  home, 
the  cloud  of  trouble  had  been  growing  larger  and  larger 
abroad.  The  discontent  of  the  American  colonies  in- 
creased in  direct  ratio  with  the  determination  of  the  home 
Government  to  ignore  or  to  override  that  discontent.  The 
King  was  fortunate,  or  believed  himself  to  be  fortunate, 
in  tinding  among  his  ministers  the  aptest  instrument  he 
could  desire  for  striking  at  the  Americans.  Lord  Hills- 
borough, the  Secretary  of  State,  was  one  of  those  men  who 
appear  to  be  inspired  by  a  very  genius  of  perversity.  He 
had  a  power  of  misunderstanding  a  political  situation  and 
underestimating  a  political  crisis  which,  if  it  could  only 
have  been  reversed,  would  have  earned  him  a  foremost 
place  among  the  statesmen  of  his  time.  But  his  per- 
versity was  of  like  temper  with  the  perversity  of  the 
King,  and  Lord  Hillsborough  was  admirably  quali- 
fied to  interpret  the  King's  dislike  of  his  American 
subjects  and  to  make  himself  the  mouthpiece  of  the  anti- 
Colonial  feeling  which  had  been  steadily  growing  up  in 
the  House  of  Commons  since  the  days  when  the  repeal  of 
the  Stamp  Act  had  known  its  season  of  brief  popularity. 

The  comparative  temperance  and  lucidity  of  the  Rock- 
ingham period  seemed  now  indeed  remote  and  memorable. 
Exasperation  and  not  conciliation  appeared  to  be  the  per- 
sistent note  of  England's  colonial  policy.  It  was  England's 
misfortune  to  be  peculiarly  ill  served  on  both  sides  of  the 
Atlantic  by  those  who  were  intrusted  with  the  conduct  of 
colonial  affairs.  It  would  be  hard  to  say  whether  the  pro- 
vincial governors  abroad  or  the  ministers  at  home  were 
least  capable  of  understanding  the  people  with  whom  they 

148  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  ui. 

had  to  deal,  or  were  most  to  blame  for  their  actions  in  the 
face  of  a  danger  that  their  own  folly  had  brought  about. 
With  a  man  like  Lord  Hillsborough  for  Secretary  of  State 
in  London,  with  a  man  like  Bernard  for  Governor  of 
Massachusetts  in  Boston,  it  is  not  to  be  wondered  at  now, 
and  it  ought  not  to  have  been  wondered  at  then,  that  the 
colonies  refused  to  crystallize  into  tranquillity.  Francis 
Bernard  was  a  man  of  certain  ability,  certain  gifts,  and 
uncertain  good  intentions.  But  he  was,  as  we  have  seen, 
a  perfervid  Tory,  a  zealous  chami^ion  of  the  royal  pre- 
rogative, a  profound  believer  in  the  wisdom  of  minimizing, 
if  not  abrogating,  the  privileges  of  which  the  colonists, 
and  especially  the  colonists  of  Massachusetts,  were  so 
proud.  It  was  Bernard's  peculiar  fortune  to  be  not  merely 
the  supporter  but  the  adviser  of  the  English  Ministries  in 
almost  all  the  series  of  disastrous  actions  towards  their 
colonies.  Bernard  was  inspired  by  a  kind  of  furious  folly 
in  his  words  and  deeds.  Unhappily,  this  kind  of  furious 
folly  was  not  confined  to  the  colonial  governor.  Lord 
Hillsborough  was  no  less  foolish  and  no  less  dangerous 
than  Bernard.  Horace  Walpole  described  Hillsborough  as 
nothing  more  than  a  pompous  composition  of  ignorance 
and  want  of  judgment.  He  certainly  was  hopelessly  igno- 
rant of  America,  and  he  certainly  showed  a  hopeless  want 
of  judgment  in  his  dealings  with  the  Americans.  Hills- 
borough backed  up  Bernard  in  his  blunders  and  his  bragga- 
docio with  the  light  heart  that  comes  of  an  empty  head. 
He  backed  up  Bernard  with  a  steady  zeal  that  would  have 
been  splendid  if  it  could  have  been  made  to  serve  any  use- 
ful purpose.  Where  Bernard  was  bellicose  and  blustering, 
Hillsborough  blustered  and  was  bellicose  in  his  turn.  It 
was  Hillsborough's  honest,  innate  conviction  that  the 
American  colonists  were  a  poor-spirited,  feeble-hearted, 
and  still  more  feeble-handed  pack  of  rascals,  braggarts 
whom  a  firm  front  discomfited,  natural  bondsmen  to  whom 
it  was  only  necessary,  as  in  the  old  classic  story,  to  show 
the  whip  to  awe  them  into  cringing  submission.  This 
theory  found  its  fittest  formula  a  little  later,  when  Hills- 
borough, speaking  for  the  Government  he  adorned,  and  in- 

1766.  THE   MUTINY   ACT.  149 

spired  by  a  more  than  usual  afflatus  of  folly,  declared  that 
"  we  can  grant  nothing  to  the  Americans  except  what  they 
may  ask  with  a  halter  round  their  necks."  It  is  difficult 
to  believe  that  a  reasonable  minister,  endowed  with  a  suffi- 
cient degree  of  human  ability  to  push  his  way  from  office 
to  office  and  from  title  to  title,  could  have  known  so  little 
of  the  history  of  his  own  country  and  the  characteristics 
of  his  own  countrymen  as  to  think  that  any  of  England's 
children  were  easily  to  be  frightened  into  ignominious 
supplication.  But  Hillsborough  undoubtedly  did  think  so, 
and  he  always  acted  consistently  in  support  of  his  strong 
conviction  that  the  independent  colonists  were  nothing 
more  than  a  mob  of  cowardly  malcontents.  He  acted  on 
this  conviction  to  such  good  purpose  that  his  name  has 
earned  its  place  of  honor  with  that  of  Grenville,  of  Town- 
shend,  and  of  Wedderburn,  in  the  illustrious  junta  who 
were  successfully  busy  about  the  sorry  business  of  con- 
verting a  great  empire  into  a  small  one. 

After  the  Stamp  Act  had  raised  its  crop  of  disturbance 
and  disorder,  the  Government  extended  to  the  colonies  the 
measure  called  the  Mutiny  Act,  for  the  quartering  of 
troops  and  providing  them  with  necessaries.  The  Legis- 
lature of  N'ew  York  refused  to  execute  this  Act,  on  the 
ground  that  it  involved  the  very  principle  of  taxation 
which  had  just  been  abandoned  by  the  repeal  of  the  Stamp 
Act.  It  made  provision  for  the  troops  in  its  own  way,  and 
calmly  ignored  the  Act  of  Parliament.  Parliament  retort- 
ed in  due  course  by  passing  a  bill  by  which  the  Governor, 
Council,  and  Assembly  of  New  York  were  prevented  from 
passing  any  law  whatsoever  until  they  had  complied  with 
the  letter  and  the  spirit  of  the  Mutiny  Act.  This  measure 
was  loudly  applauded  in  England,  even  by  some  who  had 
shown  themselves  very  friendly  to  the  grievances  of  the 
colonists.  When  T^ew  York  found  that  her  great  deed  was 
too  great,  and,  bending  before  the  anger  of  Parliament, 
reluctantly  complied  with  the  terms  of  the  ^lutiny  Act, 
there  were  not  wanting  observers  to  point  out  that  the 
lesson,  though  only  addressed  to  one  colony,  was  of  signifi- 
cance to  all,  and  that  an  inevitable  surrender  was  the  proof 

150  A   HISTORY   OF   THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lii. 

of  the  hopeless  inferiority  of  the  colonies  when  brought 
into  direct  contest  with  the  supreme  power.  These  jubila- 
tions were  as  short-lived  as  they  were  untimely.  If  New 
York  was  weak  and  wavered,  Massachusetts  was  more  firm 
of  purpose.  She  sternly  refused  to  comply  with  the  terms 
of  the  Mutiny  Act.  She  went  farther  still  in  defiance  of 
the  Government.  She  issued  a  circular  to  the  other  colo- 
nies, calling  upon  them  very  frankly  and  very  clearly  to 
co-operate  in  taking  some  united  course  for  the  purpose 
of  obtaining  redress  for  the  recent  acts  of  the  English 
Government.  This  was  the  second  instance  of  deliberate 
combination  for  a  definite  end  among  the  colonies,  and  it 
caused  much  disquiet  and  more  irritation  to  the  Govern- 
ment. Lord  Hillsborough,  always  in  favor  of  what  he  be- 
lieved to  be  firm  measures,  immediately  sent  Governor 
Bernard  instructions  to  have  the  offending  circular  re- 
scinded. Governor  Bernard  would  have  been  only  too  glad 
to  obey,  but  obedience  was  not  easy. 

Bernard  could  command,  but  Massachusetts  could  refuse 
to  give  way.  When  Bernard  retaliated  by  dissolving  the 
Massachusetts  Legislature,  colony  after  colony  replied  to 
his  action  by  applauding  the  conduct  of  Massachusetts  and 
condemning  Lord  Hillsborough.  The  English  Govern- 
ment answered  the  protests  of  Maryland,  Delaware,  Vir- 
ginia, Georgia,  and  New  York  by  creating  a  new  office 
especially  to  deal  with  the  colonies,  and  by  appointing 
Lord  Hillsborough  to  fill  the  post.  Everything  that  could 
be  done  on  the  English  side  of  the  Atlantic  by  those  in 
power  to  show  those  on  the  American  side  of  the  Atlantic 
that  they  might  look  in  vain  for  justice  or  for  considera- 
tion from  authority  was  done.  Lord  Hillsborough  was 
under  the  impression  that  a  little  firmness — what  he  called 
firmness — would  soon  bring  the  colonists  to  their  senses, 
but  every  mail  that  came  across  the  Atlantic  showed  that 
Lord  Hillsborough's  theory  was  unsupported  by  facts.  Now 
it  was  the  news  that  the  seizure  of  John  Hancock's  sloop 
"  Liberty  "  for  a  breach  of  the  revenue  laws  had  brought 
about  a  riot  in  Boston  in  which  the  Commissioners  of 
Revenue  had  to  fiv  for  their  lives.    Now  it  was  the  news  of 

1770.  THE   BOSTON   MASSACRE.  151 

a  great  convention  in  Faneuil  Hall  to  protest  against  the 
troops  which  Hillsborough,  at  the  request  of  Bernard, 
poured  into  Boston.  Now  it  was  the  news  of  daily  in- 
creasing hostility  between  the  citizens  of  Boston  and  the 
British  soldiers  quartered  in  the  town.  It  was  evident, 
even  to  Hillsborough,  that  a  dangerous  spirit  had  been 
aroused  in  America,  but  he  still  believed  that  America 
could  be  easily  frightened  or  chastised  into  good  behavior. 
He  proposed  to  enforce  an  old  law  of  Henry  the  Eighth 
by  which  the  colonists  offending  could  be  shipped  across 
the  Atlantic  for  trial  in  England.  All  that  was  best  and 
most  eloquent  in  the  House  of  Commons  protested  against 
such  folly,  and  did  not  protest  in  vain.  Some  small  con- 
cessions were  made  in  a  half-hearted  and  grudging  way  to 
the  Americans.  Governor  Bernard  was  recalled.  Some 
of  the  obnoxious  taxes  were  repealed,  though  Lord  North 
was  not  to  be  persuaded  to  abandon  the  tax  on  tea.  These 
poor  concessions  were  made  known  to  the  colonists  in  a 
more  than  usually  uncivil  and  injudicious  letter  from  Lord 
Hillsborough.  The  concessions  were  too  trivial  and  they 
came  too  late.  If  Boston  had  its  brief  day  of  rejoicing 
when  Bernard  took  his  departure,  the  men  of  Boston  were 
soon  to  be  occupied  with  other  thoughts  than  of  banners 
and  bonfires.  The  bad  feeling  between  the  people  and  the 
military  grew  worse,  and  at  last  displayed  itself  in  active 
hostility.  March  5,  1770,  was  a  memorable  day  in  the  his- 
tory of  Boston.  Three  thousand  miles  away  Lord  North 
was  moving  in  Parliament  for  the  repeal  of  all  the  Amer- 
ican duties  with  the  single  and  fatal  exception  of  the  tax 
on  tea.  In  Boston  a  small  quarrel  between  some  of  the  citi- 
zens and  certain  British  troops  under  the  command  of 
Colonel  Preston  suddenly  blazed  up  into  a  dangerous  col- 
lision. Some  of  the  soldiers  fired.  Several  citizens  were 
killed,  several  more  wounded.  There  was  an  angry  call  to 
arms,  and  a  general  civil  attack  upon  the  military  was  only 
with  difficulty  prevented  by  the  Lieutenant-Governor,  who 
ordered  the  arrest  and  imprisonment  of  Colonel  Preston 
and  the  soldiers  under  him.  These  duly  underwent  a  trial 
whose  conduct  and  whose  issue  reflect  the  highest  honor 

152  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  ui. 

upon  Boston.  The  soldiers  were  defended  by  no  less 
prominent  a  man  and  conspicuous  a  patriot  than  John 
Adams;  and,  thanks  to  John  Adams,  Colonel  Preston  and 
six  of  his  men  were  acquitted,  and  only  two  of  the  soldiers 
convicted  of  manslaughter.  But  if  the  people  of  Boston 
were  willing  that  even  their  enemies  should  be  tried  fairly, 
and  fairly  acquitted,  they  were  not  willing  to  allow  the 
events  of  that  day  to  pass  into  oblivion.  A  public  funeral 
was  accorded  to  the  victims  of  the  Boston  Massacre,  and 
the  grim  name  for  a  grim  deed  was  for  long  years  later 
solemnly  and  publicly  commemorated. 

The  bad  news  of  the  Boston  Massacre  was  followed  to 
England  by  the  bad  news  of  the  business  of  the  "  Gaspee." 
The  "  Gaspee  "  was  an  English  warship  employed  to  en- 
force the  Eevenue  Acts  along  the  Rhode  Island  coast.  Its 
commander.  Lieutenant  Duddington,  took  an  active  de- 
light in  his  duty  which  brought  him  into  perpetual  an- 
tagonism with  a  people  who  regarded  elusion  of  the  revenue 
laws  as  their  privilege  and  prerogative.  One  night  the 
"  Gaspee,^'  pursuing  the  Providence  packet,  that  had  re- 
fused to  lower  her  colors  in  salutation  as  she  passed,  ran 
aground  in  shallow  water  and  lay  fast  bound  for  the  night. 
The  news  of  her  insolence  to  the  Providence  packet  and 
of  her  present  plight  flew  abroad  all  over  Providence. 
After  sundown  a  number  of  the  townspeople  of  Provi- 
dence, well  armed  and  stern  of  purpose,  rowed  from  the 
town  to  the  stranded  "  Gaspee,"  boarded  her,  and  overcame 
the  ineffectual  resistance  of  her  crew.  In  the  scuffle  Dud- 
dington was  badly  wounded.  His  wounds  were  dressed ; 
he  and  his  men  were  put  on  shore  with  all  their  belongings. 
and  then  and  there  the  "  Gaspee "  was  set  fire  to  and 
watched  till  she  was  consumed.  Though  a  large  money 
reward  was  offered  for  the  apprehension  of  the  offenders, 
no  one  of  the  assailants  was  ever  brought  before  the  King's 

Misfortunes  like  the  Boston  Massacre,  disorders  like 
the  burning  of  the  "  Gaspee,"  naturally  increased  the  anti- 
colonial  exasperation  of  the  English  King  and  of  ministers 
like  North  and  Hillsborough.     North  thought  whatever 

1767.        THE   LETTERS  OF  HUTCHINSON   AND   OLIVER.         153 

the  King  wished  him  to  think.  Hillsborough  still  believed 
that  the  Americans  were  only  to  be  listened  to  when  they 
came  with  halters  around  their  necks.  King  George  was 
convinced  that  the  New  England  mutineers  would  speedily 
prove  to  be  lambs  when  England  chose  to  play  the  lion. 
At  this  moment  of  extreme  tension  something  happened 
which  still  further  strained  the  relations  between  the  two 

In  the  year  1767,  Hutchinson,  who  was  then  Governor- 
General  of  Massachusetts,  and  Oliver,  the  Lieutenant-Gov- 
ernor of  the  colony,  wrote  certain  letters  to  Whatel}^,  who 
was  private  secretary  to  George  Grenville.  These  were 
private  letters,  confidential  letters.  Neither  of  the  writers 
dreamed  that  they  would  ever  become  public  possessions. 
They  were  intended  to  inform  and  to  advise  a  minister's 
secretary  and  the  minister  himself.  In  these  letters  Hutch- 
inson and  Oliver  set  forth  very  fully  and  frankly  their 
views  as  to  the  condition  of  the  colonies  and  the  better 
way  of  dealing  with  them.  Hutchinson  and  Oliver  had 
suffered  much  at  the  hands  of  the  people  of  Boston.  It 
was  chance  rather  than  clemency  which  allowed  them  to 
escape  with  their  lives  on  that  wild  August  day  of  1765. 
It  is  probable  that  their  opinion  of  the  popular  party  in 
Massachusetts  was  colored  if  not  prejudiced  by  memories 
of  the  Stamp  Act  riots.  Hutchinson  and  Oliver  were  all 
for  strong  measures  of  repression  and  coercion.  To  their 
minds  the  colonies  were  allowed  a  great  deal  too  much 
liberty;  their  people  and  their  leaders  were  not  nearly  so 
sensible  of  the  advantage  of  British  supremacy  as  they 
ought  to  be;  they  were  forever  asserting  their  own  rights 
and  privileges  in  a  spirit  that  could  only  be  properly  met 
by  a  prompt  and  comprehensive  curtailment  of  those 
rights  and  privileges.  The  colonists  were  too  free,  too 
proud  of  their  charters  and  constitutions.  Hutchinson 
and  Oliver,  with  that  fine  superiority  to  charters  and  con- 
stitutions which  characterized  so  many  a  royal  governor, 
insisted  that  very  considerable  changes  of  government,  all 
in  the  direction  of  coercion,  were  necessary,  in  order  to 
make  the  conceited  colonists  know  their  place  and  to  keep 

154  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOLK  GEORGES.  ch.  lii. 

them  in  it.  These  letters  no  doubt  made  their  due  im- 
pression upon  Whately  and  upon  Grenville.  Letters  like 
them  were  always  being  despatched  across  the  Atlantic  by 
governors  and  deputy  governors  to  persons  of  importance 
in  England,  pointing  out  how  ungrateful  the  colonists 
were  for  their  many  blessings,  and  what  a  good  thing  it 
would  be  for  them  if  a  few  of  these  blessings  were  taken 
away.  These  letters  had  their  influence  upon  the  persons 
of  importance  to  whom  they  were  addressed.  They  formed 
the  minds  of  ministers;  they  fed  the  fancies  of  the  King. 
They  served  to  bolster  up  the  singular  system  of  ignorance 
and  incapacity  which  went  by  the  name  of  colonial  ad- 

Of  course  Hutchinson  and  Oliver  and  their  kind  thought 
that  they  were  only  writing  for  ministerial  eyes,  that  they 
were  only  whispering  into  royal  ears.  They  no  doubt  as- 
sumed that  their  letters  would  be  safely  pigeon-holed,  or 
still  more  safely  destroyed.  It  did  not  occur  to  them  that 
they  ever  could  or  would  be  made  public,  and  by  their  pub- 
lication thrust  new  weapons  into  the  hands  of  the  men 
whose  liberties  they  were  so  zealous  to  suppress.  But  the 
unexpected  often,  if  not  always,  happens.  Whately  died 
in  the  June  of  1772,  and  after  his  death  the  letters  he  had 
received,  and  preserved,  from  Hutchinson  and  Oliver,  were 
somehow  stolen.  We  shall  probably  never  know  how  they 
were  stolen  or  by  whom.  It  was  claimed  in  later  years,  but 
not  proved,  that  Dr.  Hugh  Williamson  was  the  means  of 
transmitting  the  letters  to  Franklin.  All  that  we  know 
for  certain  is  that  they  came  into  the  hands  of  Benjamin 
Franklin,  and  that  Benjamin  Franklin  believed  it  to  be 
his  duty  as  agent  for  Massachusetts  to  make  them  known 
to  the  colony  he  represented.  He  was  only  allowed  to  do 
so  under  certain  strict  and  definite  conditions.  The  source 
from  which  they  came  was  to  be  kept  absolutely  secret. 
They  were  only  to  be  shown  to  a  few  leading  colonists ;  they 
were  to  be  neither  printed  nor  copied,  and  they  were  to  be 
returned  promptly.  Franklin  accepted  these  conditions, 
and  as  far  as  was  in  his  power  observed  them.  The  source 
from  which  they  came  was  kept  a  secret,  is  still  a  secret. 

1112.  TEMPLE   AND   WHATELY   FIGHT   A    DUEL.  155 

But  Franklin  could  not  very  well  enforce,  perhaps  did  not 
very  greatly  desire  to  enforce,  those  conditions  upon  his 
friends  on  the  other  side  of  the  Atlantic.  He  pointed  out 
that,  though  they  might  not  be  printed  or  copied,  they 
might  be  talked  about.  And  talked  about  they  were.  The 
knowledge  of  them  set  all  Boston  afire  with  excitement, 
filling  the  colonists  with  indignation  and  their  opponents 
Avith  dismav.  The  Massachusetts  House  of  Assemblv  car- 
ried  by  a  large  majority  a  petition  to  the  King,  calling  for 
the  removal  of  Hutchinson  and  Oliver  as  betrayers  of  their 
trust  and  enemies  to  the  colony.  Hutchinson,  soon  made 
aware  of  the  publicity  given  to  the  correspondence,  demand- 
ed to  see  the  letters  that  were  said  to  come  from  him.  The 
Assembly  permitted  this,  but  accorded  the  permission  with 
a  show  of  distrust  that  was  in  itself  the  crudest  affront.  A 
small  committee  was  appointed  to  take  the  letters  to 
Hutchinson  and  to  show  him  the  letters  in  their  presence, 
the  implication  being  that  Hutchinson  was  not  to  be  trust- 
ed wdth  the  letters  except  in  the  presence  of  witnesses. 
Hutchinson  had  to  submit  to  the  insult;  he  had  also  to 
admit  that  the  letters  were  genuine.  He  gave,  or  was  un- 
derstood to  give,  permission  that  the  letters  might  be  made 
public.  The  letters  were  promptly  made  public.  Thou- 
sands of  copies  were  struck  off  and  scattered  broadcast  all 
over  the  continent. 

England  was  scarcely  less  excited  than  America  by  the 
publication.  There  was  a  general  curiosity  to  know  how 
the  letters  had  been  purloined  and  how  they  had  been  made 
public.  The  Whately  to  whom  the  letters  had  been  ad- 
dressed had  a  brother,  William  Whately.  William 
Whately  seems  to  have  been  alarmed  lest  it  might  be 
thought  that  he  was  in  any  way  instrumental  to  the  pro- 
mulgation of  the  letters.  He  diverted  any  suspicion  from 
himself  by  accusing  another  man  of  the  theft.  This  other 
man  was  a  Mr.  John  Temple,  who  had  once  had  an  oppor- 
tunity of  examining  the  papers  of  the  late  Mr.  Whately. 
Temple  immediately  challenged  his  accuser;  a  duel  was 
fought,  and  as  far  as  ordeal  of  battle  went,  Temple  made 
good  his  innocence,  for  he  wounded  William  Whately.    At 

156  A    HISTORY   OF   THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lii. 

this  moment  Franklin  came  forward.  He  admitted  that 
llie  letters  had  come  into  his  hands,  and  that  he  had 
despatched  them  to  America.  He  declined  to  say  how  they 
did  come  into  his  hands,  but  he  solemnly  asserted  the  ab- 
solute innocence  of  both  Temple  and  Whately  of  any 
knowledge  of  or  complicity  in  the  transaction.  A  storm 
of  popular  anger  broke  upon  Franklin.  He  was  regarded 
as  a  criminal,  spoken  of  as  a  criminal,  publicly  denounced 
as  a  criminal.  Wedderburn,  the  Solicitor-General,  was 
his  denunciator,  and  he  chose  for  the  place  of  his  attack 
the  House  of  Commons,  and  for  the  hour  the  occasion  of 
the  presentation  of  the  petition  of  Massachusetts  for  the 
removal  of  Hutchinson  and  Oliver. 

Wedderburn  assailed  Franklin  in  a  speech  whose  ability 
was  only  surpassed  by  its  ferocity.  In  the  presence  of  an 
illustrious  audience,  that  numbered  among  its  members 
some  of  the  most  famous  men  of  that  time  or  of  any  time, 
AVedderburn  directed  against  Franklin  a  fluency  of  in- 
vective, a  fury  of  reproach  that  was  almost  splendid  in  its 
unbridled  savagery.  The  Privy  Councillors,  with  one  ex- 
ception, rocked  with  laughter  and  revelled  in  applause  as 
the  Solicitor-General  pilloried  the  agent  from  the  colony 
of  Massachusetts  Bay  as  a  thief,  well-nigh  a  murderer,  a 
man  lost  to  all  honor,  all  decency.  The  one  grave  excep- 
tion to  the  grinning  faces  of  the  Privy  Councillors  was  the 
face  of  Lord  North.  He  sat  fixed  in  rigidity,  too  well 
aware  of  all  that  depended  upon  the  glittering  slanders  of 
Wedderburn  to  find  any  matter  of  mirth  in  them.  Only 
one  other  man  in  all  that  assembly  of  genius  and  rank  and 
fame  and  wit  carried  a  countenance  as  composed  as  that 
of  Lord  North,  and  that  was  the  face  of  the  man  whom 
Wedderburn  was  bespattering  with  his  ready  venom.  Ben- 
jamin Franklin,  dressed  in  a  gala  suit,  unlike  the  sober 
hal)it  that  was  familiar  with  him,  stood  at  the  bar  of  the 
House  and  listened  with  an  unconquerable  calm  to  all  that 
Wedderburn  had  to  say.  If  it  was  the  hour  of  Wedder- 
burn's  triumph,  it  was  not  the  hour  of  Franklin's  humilia- 
tion. He  held  his  head  high  and  suffered  no  emotion  to 
betray  itself  while  Wedderburn  piled  insult  upon  insult. 


and  the  majority  of  his  hearers  reeled  in  a  rapture  of  ap- 
proval. But  if  Franklin  listened  with  an  unmoved  coun- 
tenance, the  words  of  Wedderburn  were  not  without  their 
effect  upon  him.  He  was  human  and  the  slanders  stung 
him,  but  we  may  well  believe  that  they  stung  him  most  as 
the  representative  of  the  fair  and  flourishing  colony  whose 
petition  was  treated  with  the  same  insolence  that  ex- 
hausted itself  in  attacking  his  honor  and  his  name. 

The  clothes  philosophy  of  Diogenes  Teufelsdroch  is 
readily  annotated  by  history.  There  are  garments  that 
have  earned  an  immortalitv  of  fame.  Such  an  one  is  the 
sky-blue  coat  which  Eobespierre  wore  at  the  height  of  his 
power  when  he  celebrated  the  festival  of  the  Supreme 
Being,  and  in  the  depths  of  his  degradation  when  a  few 
days  later  he  was  carried  to  his  death.  Such  an  one  is  the 
gala  coat  of  flowered  Manchester  velvet  which  Franklin 
wore  in  his  day  of  degradation  when  he  was  compelled  to 
listen  with  a  tranquil  visage  and  a  throbbing  heart  to  the 
fluent  invective  of  Wedderburn,  and  which  was  laid  away 
and  left  unused  through  five  tremendous  years,  not  to  be 
taken  from  its  retirement  until  Franklin  wore  it  again 
on  the  day  of  his  greatest  triumph,  when  he  signed  that 
treaty  with  England  which  gave  his  country  her  place 
among  the  nations  of  the  world.  Battles  had  been  fought 
and  won  in  the  saddest  of  civil  wars,  the  trained  and  sea- 
soned troops  of  Europe  had  learned  the  lesson  of  defeat 
from  levies  of  farmers,  English  generals  had  surrendered 
to  men  of  their  own  race  and  their  own  speech,  and  a  new 
flag  floated  over  a  new  world  between  the  day  when  Frank- 
lin went  smartly  dressed  to  Westminster  to  hear  Wedder- 
burn do  his  best  and  worst,  and  the  day  when  Franklin 
went  smartly  dressed  to  Paris  as  the  representative  of  an 
independent  America.  Franklin's  flowered  coat  is  no  less 
eloquent  than  Caesar's  mantle. 

The  man  whom  the  Court  party  employed  to  deal  the 
death-blow  to  colonial  hopes,  and  to  overwhelm  with  in- 
sult and  abuse  the  colonial  agent,  was  a  countryman  and 
intimate  friend  of  the  detested  Bute.  Alexander  Wedder- 
burn attained  the  degree  of  eloquence  with  which  he  now 

158  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR   fJEORCES.  ch.  i.ii. 

assailed  Franklin  at  a  cost  of  scarcely  less  pains  than  those 
devoted  by  Demosthenes  to  conquer  his  defects.  He  had 
a  strong  and  a  harsh  Scotch  accent,  and  neither  the  accent 
nor  the  race  was  grateful  to  the  London  of  the  eighteenth 
century.  Wedderburn's  native  tenacity  enabled  him  in  a 
great  degree  to  overcome  his  native  accent.  He  toiled 
under  Thomas  Sheridan  and  he  toiled  under  Macklin  the 
actor  to  attain  the  genuine  English  accent,  and  his  labors 
did  not  go  unrewarded.  Boswell  writes  that  he  got  rid 
of  the  coarse  part  of  his  Scotch  accent,  retaining  only  so 
much  of  the  "  native  wood-note  wild "  as  to  mark  his 
countrv,  "  which  if  any  Scotchman  should  affect  to  fororet 
I  should  heartily  despise  him,"  so  that  by  degrees  he 
formed  a  mode  of  speaking  to  which  Englishmen  did  not 
deny  the  praise  of  eloquence.  Successful  as  an  orator, 
secure  in  the  patronage  of  the  royal  favorite,  Wedderburn 
sought  the  society  of  the  wits  and  was  not  welcomed  by 
them.  Johnson  disliked  him  for  his  defective  colloquial 
powers  and  for  his  supple  readiness  to  go  on  errands  for 
Bute.  Foote  derided  him  as  not  only  dull  himself,  but  the 
cause  of  dulness  in  others.  Boswell,  who  admired  his 
successful  countryman,  assumed  that  his  unfavorable  ap- 
pearances in  the  social  world  were  due  to  a  cold  affectation 
of  consequence,  from  being  reserved  and  stiff.  The  scorn 
of  Johnson  and  the  sneers  of  Foote  would  not  have  saved 
him  from  oblivion;  he  owes  his  unlovely  notoriety  to  his 
assault  upon  Franklin,  with  all  its  disastrous  consequences. 
Many  3'^ears  later,  when  Wedderburn  was  Lord  Lough- 
borough and  Chief  Justice  of  the  Common  Pleas,  a  hu- 
morous editor  dedicated  to  him  ironically  a  new  edition 
of  Franklin's  "  Rules  for  Eeducing  a  Great  Empire  to  a 
Small  One." 

The  English  Government  was  now  resolved  to  show 
that  it  would  temporize  no  longer  with  the  factious  colo- 
nists. If  in  a  spirit  of  rash  and  ill-repaid  good-nature  it 
had  repealed  certain  taxes,  at  least  it  would  repeal  no 
more.  The  tax  on  tea  existed;  the  tax  on  tea  would  be 
enforced;  the  tax  on  tea  should  be  respected.  The  East 
India  Company  had  a  vast  quantity  of  tea  which  it  desired 

1113.  THE  BOSTON    "TEA-PARTY."  I59 

to  sell.  It  obtained  from  the  Government  the  permission 
to  export  the  tea  direct  to  America  instead  of  being  obliged 
to  let  it  pass  through  the  hands  of  English  merchants. 
Under  such  conditions  the  tea  could  be  sold  very  cheaply 
indeed  in  the  colonies,  and  the  Government  hoped  and  be- 
lieved that  this  very  cheapness  would  be  a  temptation  too 
keen  for  the  patriotism  of  a  tea-drinking  city  to  withstand. 
If  the  King  and  the  East  India  Company  were  resolved 
to  force  their  tea  upon  the  American  colonists,  the  Ameri- 
cans were  no  less  stubborn  in  their  resolution  to  refuse  it. 
The  tea-ships  sailed  the  seas,  weathered  the  winds  and 
waves  of  the  Atlantic,  only  to  be,  as  it  were,  wrecked  in 
port.  The  colonists  in  general,  and  especially  the  colo- 
nists of  Massachusetts,  were  resolved  not  to  suffer  the  tea 
to  be  landed,  for  they  knew  that  once  landed  it  could  be 
sold  so  cheaply  that  it  would  be  hard  for  many  to  resist 
the  temptation  to  buy  it.  Every  effort  was  made  to  pre- 
vent the  importation.  In  many  cases  the  consignees  were 
persuaded,  not  wholly  without  menace,  to  make  public  en- 
gagement to  relinquish  their  appointments.  Pilots  were 
advised  as  patriots  to  lend  no  aid  to  the  threatened  im- 
portation; indeed,  it  was  pretty  plainly  hinted  to  some  of 
them  that  they  would  best  prove  their  patriotism  by  using 
their  especial  knowledge  in  such  a  way  as  would  most 
effectually  prevent  it.  Boston  set  the  example  of  self- 
denial  and  of  resistance.  In  the  December  of  1773  three 
ships  laden  with  tea  arrived  in  her  port.  Their  captains 
soon  heard  of  the  hostility  to  their  mission,  were  soon 
warned  of  the  dangers  that  awaited  them.  Alarmed  at 
their  perils,  the  captains  declared  their  perfect  willingness 
to  return  with  their  cargoes  to  England  if  they  were  per- 
mitted to  do  so  by  the  Board  of  Customs  and  the  persons 
to  whom  the  tea  had  been  consigned.  But  the  willingness 
of  the  captains  was  of  no  avail.  The  consignees  insisted 
that  the  tea  should  be  delivered  to  them,  and  neither  the 
Custom  House  nor  the  Governor  would  grant  the  cap- 
tains permission  to  return.  But  if  the  consignees  and  the 
authorities  were  resolved  that  the  tea  should  be  landed, 
the  citizens  of  Boston  were  equally  resolved  that  it  should 


not.  Their  fantastic  metliod  of  giving  force  to  their  reso- 
lution has  made  it  famous.  In  the  dusk  of  a  December 
e\ening  the  three  tea-ships  were  suddenly  boarded  by  what 
seemed  to  be  a  small  army  of  Mohawk  Indians  in  all  the 
terror  of  their  war-paint.  These  seeming  Indians  were  in 
reality  serious  citizens  of  Boston,  men  of  standing,  wealth, 
and  good  repute,  wearers  of  names  that  had  long  been 
known  and  honored  in  the  Commonwealth.  The  fright- 
ful paint,  the  gaudy  feathers,  the  moccasins  and  wampum, 
the  tomahawks,  scalping-knives,  and  pistols  that  seemed 
so  alarming  to  the  peaceful  captains  of  the  boarded  ships 
were  but  the  fantastic  accoutrements  that  concealed  the 
placid  faces  and  the  portly  persons  of  many  a  respectable 
and  respected  Boston  burgess. 

The  plan  had  been  schemed  out  by  a  conclave  of  citizens 
around  a  bowl  of  punch  in  Court  Street,  and  was  carried 
out  with  a  success  that  was  no  less  remarkable  than  its 
peacefulness.  The  trappings  of  the  red  man  concealed 
the  identity  of  many  prominent  citizens,  friends  of  John 
Hancock  and  Samuel  Adams,  their  rivals  in  ability  and 
their  peers  in  energy.  The  sham  savages  were  so  numerous 
and  so  determined  that  no  resistance  was  offered  by  the 
captains  or  the  crews  of  the  vessels.  The  shore  was  picket- 
ed with  sentinels  ready  to  resist  any  interference  on  the 
part  of  any  representatives  of  royal  authority.  There  was 
no  interference.  The  conspirators  of  the  punch-bowl  and 
those  who  obeyed  their  instructions  kept  their  secret  so 
close,  and  did  their  work  so  quickly,  that  those  in  authority 
knew  nothing  about  the  business  until  the  business  was 
happily  over.  In  about  two  hours  the  entire  cargo  of  the 
three  tea-ships  was  dragged  out  of  the  hold  and  flung  into 
the  sea.  The  patriotic  citizen  who  had  asked  significantly 
if  tea  could  be  made  with  salt  water  was  satisfactorily 
answered  by  the  Mohawks  when  they  cast  overboard  the 
last  of  their  three  hundred  and  forty-two  chests,  and  pre- 
pared to  disappear  as  rapidly  and  as  mysteriously  as  they 
had  come.  During  the  whole  adventure  only  one  man  was 
hurt,  Avho  tried  to  secrete  some  of  the  tea  about  his  person, 
and  who  was  given  a  drubbing  for  his  pains.     The  Mo- 

17*73.  AFTER  TOE   BOSTON^   "  TEA-PA RTT."  161 

hawks  scattered  and  disappeared,  washed  their  faces,  rolled 
up  their  blankets,  concealed  their  pistols  and  axes,  and  as 
many  reputable  Boston  citizens  returned  to  their  homes. 
It  is  related  that  some  of  them  on  their  way  home  passed 
by  a  house  in  w^hich  Admiral  Montague  was  spending  the 
evening.  ^Montague  heard  the  noise  of  the  trampling  feet, 
opened  the  window  and  looked  out  upon  the  fantastic  pro- 
cession. No  doubt  some  news  of  what  had  happened  had 
reached  him,  for  he  is  reported  to  have  called  out :  "  Well, 
boys,  you  have  had  a  fine  night  for  your  Indian  caper.  But 
mind,  you've  got  to  pay  the  fiddler  yet."  One  of  the  Mo- 
hawk leaders  looked  up  and  answered  promptly:  "Oh, 
never  mind,  squire.  Just  come  out  here,  if  you  please,  and 
we'll  settle  the  bill  in  two  minutes."  The  admiral  con- 
sidered the  odds  were  against  him,  that  the  joke  had  gone 
far  enough.  He  closed  the  window,  leaving  the  bill  to  be 
settled  by  whoso  thought  fit,  and  the  laughing  savages 
sw^ept  on  to  their  respectable  wigwams.  If  some  very  repu- 
table citizens  found  a  few  leaves  of  tea  in  their  shoes  when 
they  took  them  off  that  night,  they  said  nothing  about  it, 
and  nobody  was  the  wiser.  So  ended  the  adventure  of  the 
Boston  Tea-party,  which  was  but  the  prologue  to  advent- 
ures more  memorable  and  more  momentous.  We  learn 
that  at  least  one  of  these  masquerading  Indians  survived 
to  so  late  a  date  as  the  ^larch  of  1846.  Men  now  living 
may  have  clasped  hands  with  Henry  Purkitt  and  David 
Kinnison  and  heard  from  their  own  lips  the  story  of  a 
deed  that  enraged  a  King,  offended  Chatham,  was  disap- 
proved of  by  George  Washington,  and  was  not  disapproved 
of  by  Burke. 

The  news  of  the  Boston  Tea-party  reached  London  on 
January  19,  1774,  and  was  public  property  on  the  21st. 
Other  news  little  less  unpleasant  soon  followed.  At 
Charleston  tea  was  only  landed  to  lie  rotting  in  damp 
cellars,  not  an  ounce  of  it  to  be  bousjht  or  sold.  In  Phila- 
delphia  a  proclamation  of  December  27,  1773,  announced 
that  "  THE  TEA-SHIP  being  arrived,  every  Inhabitant 
who  wishes  to  preserve  the  Liberty  of  America  is  desired 
to  meet  at  the  STATE-HOUSE,  This  Morning,  precisely 

VOL.   III.— 6 

102  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lii. 

at  TEN  O'Clock,  to  advise  what  is  best  to  be  done  on  this 
alarming  Crisis."  "  What  was  best  to  be  clone  "  proved 
to  be  to  compel  the  tea-ship  to  return  at  once  with  its 
cargo  to  England.  New  York  refused  to  allow  the  tea- 
ship  "  Nanc}^ "  to  enter  the  harbor,  and  if  some  tea  was 
eventually  landed  under  the  cannon  of  a  man-of-war,  it 
was  only  to  be  locked  up  as  in  Charleston,  and  to  be  left 
to  lie  unused.  The  bad  news  was  received  in  England 
with  an  unreasoning  fury  by  those  whose  fault  it  w^as,  and 
by  those  who  knew  nothing  at  all  about  the  matter ;  with  a 
grave  indignation  by  those  who,  like  Pitt,  were  as  resolute 
to  support  the  supremacy  of  England  as  to  plead  for  jus- 
tice to  her  colonies;  with  despair  by  those  who  dreamed  of 
an  honorable  and  abiding  union  between  the  two  peoples; 
and  with  applause  by  those  w^io  admired  any  protest 
against  injustice,  however  vehement  and  irregular. 

It  is  difficult,  in  reading  the  del)ates  on  the  troubles  in 
America,  to  credit  the  sanity  of  the  majority  of  the 
speakers.  These  advocated  a  colonial  policy  that  should 
only  have  commended  itself  to  a  session  of  Bedlamites,  and 
clamored  for  a  treatment  ol  the  colonists  that  might  well 
have  shocked  the  susceptibilities  of  a  savage.  No  Vir- 
ginian planter  could  be  more  disdainful  of  the  rights  of 
his  slaves,  or  more  resentful  at  any  attempt  to  assert  them, 
than  the  average  member  of  Parliament  w^as  disdainful 
of  the  rights  of  the  American  colonists  and  resentful  at 
their  assertion.  The  English  country  gentlemen  who  ap- 
plauded the  ministers  and  who  howled  at  Burke  seemed  to 
be  absolutely  unconscious  that  the  men  of  Massachusetts 
and  the  men  of  New  York  were  not  merely  like  themselves 
made  in  the  same  image,  but  brethren  of  their  own  race, 
blood  of  their  blood  and  bone  of  their  bone,  children  of 
the  same  stock  whose  resistance  to  oppression  was  recorded 
at  Runnymede  and  Worcester,  at  the  Boyne  and  at  Cul- 
loden.  Even  if  the  colonists  had  been  the  knaves  and  fools 
and  cowards  that  the  Parliamentary  majority  appeared  to 
think  them,  the  action  of  that  majority  was  of  a  kind 
eminently  calculated  to  lend  strength  to  the  most  feeble 
spirit  and  courage  to  the  most  craven  heart.     The  coarse 

1114.  CLOSING   THE  PORT   OF  BOSTON.  163 

contempt,  the  brutal  menace  which  were  the  distinguishing 
features  of  all  that  ill-timed  oratory  might  well  have  goaded 
into  resistance  men  who  had  been  slaves  for  generations  till 
servility  had  grown  a  habit.  Yet  this  contempt  and 
menace  were  addressed  to  men  trained  by  harsh  experiences 
to  be  stubborn  in  defence  and  sturdy  in  defiance,  men  who 
had  won  their  liberty  from  the  sea  and  the  wilderness,  who 
were  as  tenacious  of  their  rights  and  as  proud  of  their 
privileges  as  they  were  tenacious  of  the  soil  which  they 
had  wrested  from  the  red  man  and  the  wolf,  and  proud  of 
the  stately  cities  which  had  conquered  the  forest  and  the 
swamp.  It  was  the  descendants  of  Miles  Standish  and 
John  Smith,  of  Endicott  and  Bradford  and  Underbill  and 
Winslow  whom  the  Squire  Westerns  of  Westminster  were 
ready  to  insult  and  were  eager  to  enslave. 

It  must,  however,  be  remembered  that  even  men  who  had 
advocated  the  claims  of  the  colonies  were,  or  professed  to 
be,  shocked  at  the  daring  deed  of  the  men  of  Boston.  Dean 
Tucker  declared  that  mutinous  colonies  were  no  use  to 
England,  and  had  better  be  allowed  to  depart.  Chatham 
found  the  action  of  the  Boston  people  criminal,  prompted 
by  passions  and  wild  pretences.  In  America  George 
Washington  disapproved  of  the  exploit. 

The  East  India  Company,  pressed  by  the  pinch  of  finan- 
cial difficulties,  clamored  for  a  revenge  that  the  King  was 
resolved  to  give  them.  Under  his  instigation  Lord  North, 
in  the  beginning  of  1774,  introduced  the  famous  measure 
for  closing  the  port  of  Boston  against  all  commerce.  The 
Bill  declared  that  "  in  the  present  condition  of  the  town 
and  harbor  the  commerce  of  his  ^tajesty's  subjects  cannot 
be  safely  carried  on  there."  It  was  accordingly  asserted 
to  be  "  expedient  that  the  officers  of  his  Majesty's  Customs 
should  be  forthwith  removed  from  the  said  town."  It  was 
enacted  that  "  from  and  after  the  first  day  of  June,  1774, 
it  shall  not  be  lawful  for  any  person  or  persons  to  lade,  or 
cause  to  be  laden,  or  put  off  from  any  quay,  wharf,  or  other 
place  within  the  town  of  Boston,  or  in  or  upon  any  part 
of  the  shore  of  the  bay,  commonly  called  the  harbor  of 
Boston,  into  any  ship,  vessel,  boat,  etc.,  any  goods,  wares, 

1G4  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  Lll. 

or  mcrcliniidiou  whatsoever  ...  or  to  take  up,  discharge, 
01  cause  or  procure  to  be  taken  up  or  discharged  within 
tlie  town,  out  of  any  boat,  lighter,  ship,  etc.,  any  goods, 
wares,  or  merchandise  whatsoever  .  .  .  under  pain  of  the 
forfeiture  of  the  goods  and  merchandise  and  of  the  boat,'' 
and  so  on,  in  a  long  and  drastic  measure  practically  in- 
tended to  ruin  Boston.  This  was  what  the  Government 
thought  it  well  to  describe  by  the  word  "  expedient."  This 
was  not  all.  Comprehensive  alterations  of  the  laws  of  the 
province  followed.  The  charter  of  Massachusetts  was 
changed.  The  council  for  the  province,  which  had  hitherto 
been  chosen  by  the  people,  was  now  to  be  chosen  by  the 
Crown,  and  the  judges  of  the  province  were  to  be  nomi- 
nated by  the  Crown.  Another  measure  authorized  the 
Governor  to  send  persons  implicated  in  the  disturbances  to 
England  for  trial.  Boston  and  the  province  were  indeed 
to  be  heavily  punished  and  sternly  brought  to  their  senses. 
The  King  and  the  King's  ministers  had  hoped  fondly, 
in  the  old  as  well  as  the  new  sense  of  the  word,  that  their 
action  towards  the  port  of  Boston  would  effectually  hum- 
ble the  spirit  and  crush  the  opposition  of  that  mutinous 
city.  Their  scheme  was  founded  upon  a  nice  calculation 
of  the  innate  baseness  of  human  nature.  They  argued  that 
the  closing  of  the  port  of  Boston  would  turn  the  stream  of 
her  commerce  in  the  direction  of  other  cities,  which  would 
be  only  too  glad  to  enrich  themselves  at  the  expense  of 
their  disabled  comrade.  While  they  believed  that  the  pun- 
ishment of  Boston  would  thus  breed  a  selfish  disunion  in 
the  province  of  ^lassachusetts,  they  trusted  also  that  the 
spectacle  of  the  severe  punishment  meted  out  to  Massa- 
chusetts would  have  its  wholesome  deterring  effect  upon 
other  colonies  and  destroy  at  once  whatever  desire  for 
union  might  exist  among  them.  The  King  and  the  King's 
ministers  were  the  more  deceived.  Their  ingenious  scheme 
produced  a  result  precisely  the  opposite  of  that  which  they 
so  confidently  anticipated.  The  other  ports  of  Massa- 
chusetts did  not  seize  with  avidity  the  opportunity  for 
plunder  afforded  them  by  the  humiliation  of  Boston.  The 
other  colonies  were  not  driven  into  discord  by  the  sight  of 

1774.  GExVERAL  GAGE.  165 

the  punishment  of  Massachusetts.  On  the  contrary,  the 
ports  of  Massachusetts  refused  to  take  advantage  of  the 
degradation  of  Boston,  and  the  colonies  were  urged,  and 
almost  forced,  into  union  by  what  they  regarded  as  the 
despotic  treachery  of  the  English  Crown.  The  most  de- 
voted friend,  the  most  enthusiastic  advocate  of  the  rights 
of  the  American  colonists  could  scarcely  have  devised  bet- 
ter means  of  drawing  them  together  and  welding  them 
into  a  solid  fellowship  than  those  which  had  been  employed 
by  George  the  Third  and  his  advisers  for  the  purpose  of 
keeping  them  apart  forever. 

An  immense  number  of  copies  of  the  Boston  Port  Bill 
were  sent  with  great  rapidity  all  over  the  colonies.  In  the 
fine  phrase  which  we  must  needs  believe  to  be  Burke's,  these 
had  the  effect  which  the  poets  ascribe  to  the  Fury's  torch; 
they  set  the  countries  through  which  they  passed  in  a  flame. 
At  Boston  and  Xew  York  "  the  populace  had  copies  of  the 
Bill  printed  upon  mourning  paper  with  a  black  border, 
which  they  cried  about  the  streets  under  the  title  of  a 
barbarous,  cruel,  bloody,  and  inhuman  murder."  In  other 
places  the  Bill  was  publicly  burned.  All  over  the  Conti- 
nent great  meetings  were  held,  at  which,  with  more  or  less 
vehemence  of  speech,  but  with  a  common  enthusiasm  and 
a  common  indignation,  the  Bill  was  denounced,  and  the 
determination  to  resist  it  defiantly  asserted.  When  Gen- 
eral Gage  arrived  on  his  mission  of  administration  he 
found  not  merely  the  colony  of  Massachusetts,  but  the 
whole  continent  in  an  uproar.  He  had  to  deal  with  a  vast 
majority  of  the  people  who  were  in  proclaimed  resistance 
to  the  Act,  and  who  only  differed  in  the  extreme  of  resist- 
ance to  which  they  were  prepared  immediately  to  go,  and 
a  minority  who  either  approved  or  did  not  altogether  dis- 
approve of  the  Act.  Gage  was  condemned  to  the  govern- 
ment not  of  a  cowed,  humbled,  and  friendless  province, 
but  of  a  raging  nation,  frantic  at  the  infringement  of  its 
rights,  and  sustained  in  the  struggle  it  was  resolved  to 
make  by  the  cheer  and  aid  of  a  league  of  sister  nations. 
The  flame  from  the  Fury's  torch  had  spread  with  a  ven- 
geance.    Gage  was  a  brave  man,  an  able  man,  an  honor- 

166  A    HISTORY   OF   THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lii. 

able  man  ;  but  for  Alexander  he  was  a  little  over-parted. 
The  difliculties  he  had  to  encounter  were  too  great  for  him 
to  grapple  with;  the  work  he  was  meant  to  do  too  vast  for 
his  hands  or  the  hands  of  any  man.  He  was  sent  out  to 
sway  a  chastened  and  degraded  province ;  he  found  himself 
opposed  by  a  defiant  people,  exalted  by  injustice  and  ani- 
mated by  attack. 

1774.  DEATH  OF   OLIVEH   GULDiiMlTH.  IQ\ 


THE    ''  VICAR    OF    WAKEFIELD/' 

In  the  early  spring  that  followed  upon  the  winter  when 
the  Mohawks  of  Boston  made  tea  with  salt  water,  at  a 
time  when  politicians  were  busy  fighting  over  the  Boston 
Port  Bill,  and  neither  side  dreamed  of  the  consequences 
that  could  come  of  a  decision,  one  of  the  gentlest  and 
eweetest  writers  of  the  English  speech  passed  quietly,  and 
somewhat  unhappily,  away  from  a  world  he  had  done  so 
much  to  make  happy.  With  Oliver  Goldsmith  an  epoch 
of  literature  came  to  an  end,  as  the  year  that  saw  his  death 
ended  an  epoch  in  the  history  of  the  world.  The  char- 
acteristic literature  of  the  eighteenth  century,  the  litera- 
ture that  began  with  Swift  and  Addison,  and  Steele  and 
Pope;  that  boasted  among  its  greatest  the  names  of  Sterne 
and  Richardson,  Smollett  and  Fielding,  came  to  its  close 
with  the  genius  of  Goldsmith.  With  the  new  conditions 
which  were  coming  over  the  world  a  new  literature  was 
to  be  created.  Wordsworth  w^as  a  child  of  four,  at  Cocker- 
mouth;  Coleridge  was  a  child  of  four,  at  Bristol;  over  in 
Germany  a  young  poet,  whose  name  was  unknown  in  Eng- 
land, had  been  much  influenced  by  Goldsmith's  immortal 
story,  and  was  in  his  turn  and  time  to  have  a  very  pro- 
found influence  over  the  literature  of  Goldsmith's  adopted 
country.  The  year  of  Goldsmith's  death  was  the  year  in 
which  the  young  Goethe  published  those  "  Sorrows  of 
Werther  "  which  marked  the  birth  of  a  new  form  of  ex- 
pression in  art. 

Goldsmith  was  born  in  Ireland,  at  Pallas,  in  the  county 
of  Longford,  in  the  early  November  of  1728.  He  lived 
for  over  forty-five  years  a  life  of  poverty,  of  vagrancy,  of 
squalor,  of  foolish  dissi2)ation,  of  grotesque  vanity,  of  an 

168  A   niSTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  liu. 

industry  as  amazing  as  his  improvidence,  of  a  native  idle- 
ness that  was  successfully  combated  by  a  tireless  industry, 
of  an  amazing  simplicity  that  was  only  rivalled  by  his 
amazing  genius.  There  were  a  great  many  contrasting  and 
seemingly  incompatible  elements  in  Goldsmith's  queer 
composition,  but  his  faults  were  not  of  a  kind  to  prevent 
men  from  finding  him  lovable,  and,  whatever  his  faults 
were,  they  left  no  stain  upon  his  writings. 

The  writings  of  Goldsmith  are  distinguished  in  English 
literature,  and,  indeed,  in  the  literature  of  the  world,  by 
their  sweet  pure  humor,  fresh  and  clear  and  sparkling  as 
a  fountain  whose  edges  the  satyr's  hoof  has  never  trampled. 
They  charm  by  their  humanity,  by  their  tender  charity,  by 
the  nobility  of  their  lesson,  a  nobility  only  heightened  by 
the  intense  sympathy  with  the  struggles,  and  sorrows,  and 
errors  of  mankind  A  new  St.  Martin  of  letters,  he  was 
ever  ready  to  share  his  mantle  of  pity  with  the  sad  and 
sinning.  He  had  himself  suffered  so  much,  and  been  so 
tempted  and  tested,  and  had  retained  throughout  his  trials 
so  much  of  the  serenity  of  a  child,  that  all  his  writings 
breathe  compassion  for  frailty  and  failure  with  something 
of  a  schoolboy  sense  of  brotherhood  which  softens  even 
his  satire.  The  flames  of  London's  fiery  furnace  had 
blazed  and  raged  about  him,  but  he  passed  through  them 
unconsumed.  The  age  in  which  he  lived  was  not  an  age 
of  exalted  purity,  the  city  wherein  he  dwelt  was  scarcely 
saintly.  He  lived  in  some  of  the  most  evil  days  of  the 
eighteenth  century,  but  his  writings  and  his  life  escaped 
pollution.  He  was  not  a  saint,  indeed;  he  was  a  spend- 
thrift and  he  loved  his  glass,  but  he  was  never  tainted  with 
tlie  servile  sins  of  cities.  Through  all  the  weltering  horror 
of  Hogarth's  London  we  seem  to  see  him  walk  with  some- 
thing of  the  freshness  of  his  boyhood  still  shining  on  his 
face.  The  reflection  of  the  Irish  skies  was  too  bright  upon 
his  eyes  to  let  them  be  dimmed  by  the  squalor  and  the 
sliame  of  a  squalid  and  shameful  city. 

With  the  true  instinct  of  his  fine  nature  he  made  his 
friends  and  companions  among  the  wisest  and  highest  of 
his  time.     His  intimates  and  companions  were  Edmund 

1774.  THE  FRIENDS  OF   GOLDSMITH.  169 

Burke,  and  Dr.  Johnson,  and  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds.  He 
had  women  friends  too,  as  wisely  chosen  as  the  men — 
women  w^ho  were  kind  to  him  and  admired  him,  women 
whose  kindness  and  admiration  were  worth  the  winning, 
women  whose  friendship  brightened  and  soothed  a  life 
that  was  darkened  and  vexed  enough.  Mary  Horneck  and 
her  sister  were  the  stars  of  his  life,  his  heroines,  his  idols, 
his  ideals.  He  has  made  Marv  Horneck  immortal  as  the 
"  Jessamy  Bride."  In  his  hours  of  poverty  he  was  cheered 
by  the  thought  of  her;  while  he  lived  he  worshipped  her, 
and  when  he  died  a  lock  of  his  hair  was  taken  from  his 
coffin  and  given  to  her.  Thackeray  tells  a  touching  little 
story  of  the  Jessamy  Bride.  She  lived  long  after  the  death 
of  the  man  of  genius  who  adored  her,  lived  well  into  the 
nineteenth  century,  and  "  Hazlitt  saw  her,  an  old  lady, 
but  beautiful  still,  in  Northcote's  painting-room,  who  told 
the  eager  critic  how  proud  she  was  always  that  Goldsmith 
had  admired  her." 

Goldsmith  was  a  companionable  being  and  loved  all 
company  that  was  not  vicious  and  depraved.  He  could  be 
happy  at  the  club  in  the  society  of  the  great  thinkers  and 
teachers  and  wits  of  the  time.  He  could  be  more  than 
happy  at  Barton,  in  the  society  of  Mary  and  her  sister. 
But  he  could  be  happy  too,  in  far  humbler,  far  less  roman- 
tic fellowship.  "  1  am  fond  of  amusement,"  he  declares 
in  one  of  his  most  delightful  essays,  "  in  whatever  com- 
pany it  is  to  be  found,  and  wit,  though  dressed  in  rags,  is 
ever  pleasing  to  me."  There  was  plenty  of  wit  dressed  in 
rags  drifting  about  the  London  of  that  day.  Men  of 
genius  slept  on  bulkheads  and  beneath  arches,  and  starved 
for  want  of  a  guinea,  or  haunted  low  taverns,  or  paced  St. 
James's  Square  all  night  in  impecunious  couples  for  sheer 
need  of  a  lodging,  cheering  each  other's  supperless  mood 
with  political  conversations  and  declarations  that,  let  come 
what  might  come,  they  would  never  desert  the  Ministry. 
But  Goldsmith  unearthed  men  of  genius  whose  names 
nobody  ever  heard  of,  and  studied  them  and  made  merry 
with  them,  and  transferred  them  to  his  pages  for  us  to 
make  merry  with  more  than  a  century  after  Goldsmith 

170  A    IIISTORV    OF   TiJE   FOUR   GEORGES.  cii.  liii. 

fell  asleep.  We  may  suspect  that  Goldsmith  never  really 
found  tliose  wonderful  beggars  he  chronicles.  He  did  not 
discover  them  as  Cabot  discovered  America;  he  is  their 
inventor,  as  the  fancy  of  poets  invented  the  Fortunate 

Goldsmith's  strolling  player  is  as  real  as  Richard  Sav- 
age, with  whom  he  is  contemporary,  and  it  must  be  ad- 
mitted that  he  is  a  more  presentable  personage.  What  a 
jolly  philosophy  is  his  about  the  delights  of  beggary !  It 
has  all  the  humor  of  Eabelais  with  no  touch  of  the  Tou- 
raine  grossness.  It  has  something  of  the  wisdom  of  Au- 
relius,  only  clad  in  homespun  instead  of  the  purple.  The 
philosophy  of  contentment  was  never  more  merrily  nor 
more  whimsically  expressed.  A  synod  of  sages  could  not 
formulate  a  scheme  in  praise  of  poverty  more  impressive 
than  the  contagious  humor  of  his  light-hearted  merriment. 
The  strolling  player  has  the  best  of  the  argument,  but  he 
has  it  because  he  is  speaking  with  the  persuasive  magic  of 
the  tongue  of  Oliver  Goldsmith. 

The  same  pervading  cheerfulness,  the  same  sunny  phi- 
losophy, which  is,  however,  by  no  means  the  philosophy  of 
Pangloss,  informs  all  his  work.  Beau  Tibbs  boasting  in 
his  garret;  Dr.  Primrose  in  Newgate;  the  good-natured 
man,  seated  between  two  bailiffs,  and  trying  to  converse 
with  his  heart's  idol  as  if  nothing  had  happened;  Mr. 
Hardcastle,  foiled  for  the  five-hundredth  time  in  the  tale 
of  Old  Grouse  in  the  Gun  Room;  each  is  an  example  of 
Goldsmith's  method  and  of  Goldsmith's  manner.  If  Gold- 
smith did  not  enjoy  while  he  lived  all  the  admiration,  all 
the  rewards  that  ])elonged  of  right  to  his  genius,  the 
generations  that  have  succeeded  have  made  amends  for 
the  errors  of  their  ancestors.  "  She  Stoops  to  Conquer  " 
is  still  the  most  successful  of  the  stock  comedies.  If  "  The 
Good-Natured  Man  "  can  scarcely  be  said  to  have  kept  the 
stage,  it  is  still  the  delight  of  the  student  in  his  closet. 
What  satires  are  better  known  than  the  letters  of  the 
"  Citizen  of  the  World  "  ?  What  spot  on  the  map  is  more 
familiar  than  Sweet  Auburn  ?  As  for  the  "  Vicar  of 
Wakefield,"  what  profitable  words  could  now  be  added  to 


its  praise  ?  It  has  conquered  the  world,  it  is  dear  to  every 
country  and  known  in  every  language,  it  has  taken  its  place 
by  unquestionable  right  with  the  masterpieces  of  all  time. 

"  Dr.  Goldsmith,"  said  his  most  famous  friend  of  the 
man  who  was  then  lying  in  the  Temple  earth — "  Dr.  Gold- 
smith was  wild,  sir,  but  he  is  so  no  more."  This  epitaph 
has  been  quoted  a  thousand  times,  but  it  must  in  no  sense 
be  taken  as  a  summing-up  of  the  dead  man's  career.  It  was 
a  rebuke,  justly  administered,  to  the  critic  who  at  such  a 
moment  could  have  the  heart  to  say  that  Oliver  Goldsmith 
had  been  wild.  Dr.  Johnson,  who  uttered  the  rebuke,  put 
the  same  thought  even  more  profoundly  in  a  letter  ad- 
dressed to  Bennet  Langton  shortly  after  Goldsmith's  death. 
In  this  letter  he  announces  Goldsmith's  death,  speaks  of  his 
"  folly  of  expense,"  and  concludes  by  saying,  "  But  let  not 
his  frailties  be  remembered;  he  was  a  very  great  man." 
These  simple  words  are  infinitely  more  impressive  than 
the  magniloquence  of  the  epitaph  which  Johnson  wrote 
on  Goldsmith. 

Goldsmith  lived  in  London  and  he  died  in  London,  and 
he  lies  buried  in  the  precincts  of  the  Temple.  The  noise, 
and  rattle,  and  roar  of  London  rave  daily  about  his  grave. 
Around  it  rolls  the  awful  music  of  a  great  city  that  has 
grown  and  swollen  and  extended  its  limits  and  multiplied 
its  population  out  of  all  resemblance  to  that  little  London 
where  Goldsmith  lived  and  starved  and  made  merry,  and 
was  loved,  and  dunned,  and  sorrowed  for.  The  body  that 
first  drew  breath  among  the  pleasant  Longford  meadows, 
which  seem  to  stretch  in  all  directions  to  touch  the  sky, 
lies  at  rest  within  the  humming,  jostling,  liberties  of  the 
Temple.  It  is  perhaps  fitting  that  the  grave  of  one  who 
all  his  life  loved  men  and  rejoiced  so  much  in  companion- 
ship should  be  laid  in  a  place  where  the  foot  of  man  is 
almost  always  busy,  where  silence,  when  it  comes  at  all, 
comes  only  with  the  night. 

There  is  not  a  space  in  the  scope  of  this  history  to  deal, 
otherwise  than  incidentally,  with  the  literature  of  Eng- 
land in  the  eighteenth  century.  The  whole  Georgian  era, 
from  its  dawn  to  its  dusk,  is  rich  in  splendid  names  in  let- 

172  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  liii. 

tcrs  as  in  art.  1'he  great  inheritance  from  the  Augustan 
age  of  Anne,  the  anguish  of  Grub  Street,  the  evolution  of 
the  novel,  the  eloquence  of  the  pulpit  and  the  l)ar,  the 
triumphs  of  science,  the  controversies  of  scholars,  the  fort- 
unes of  the  (Iranui,  the  speculations  of  philosophy,  the 
vacillations  of  the  pamphleteer,  the  judgments  of  the 
critics,  the  achievements  of  historians — these  are  themes 
whose  intimate  consideration  is  outside  the  range  of  this 
work's  purpose.  All  that  is  possible  is  here  and  there  to 
linger  a  little  in  the  company  of  some  dear  and  famous 
figure — a  Swift,  a  Johnson,  a  Goldsmith,  a  Sheridan — 
who  stands  above  his  fellows  in  the  world's  renown  or  in 
our  individual  affection,  who  played  while  he  lived  his 
conspicuous  part  on  the  great  stage  of  public  life,  or  who 
helped  conspicuously  to  influence  public  thought.  The 
selection  is,  within  these  limitations,  inevitably  arbitrary, 
and  is  given  frankly  as  such.  Certain  names  assert  them- 
selves masterfullv,  and  of  these  Goldsmith's  is  one  of  the 
most  masterful.  He  added  images  to  daily  life  and  com- 
mon thought  as  Bunyan  did  or  Shakespeare.  There  is 
no  more  need  to  explain  Dr.  Primrose  than  there  is  to 
explain  ;\rr.  Facing-both-ways,  and  if  Beau  Tibbs  is  only 
less  familiar  as  Osric,  Tony  Lumpkin  is  to  the  full  as 
familiar  as  Falstaif.  Goldsmith  himself  is  the  lovable 
type  of  a  class  that  was  often  unlovely  in  the  eighteenth 
century,  the  needy  man  of  letters.  If  he  has  his  lodging 
in  the  Grub  Street  of  Dreams,  his  presence  there  brings 
sunlight  into  the  squalid  place,  and  an  infinite  humor,  an 
infinite  charity  compensate  royally  for  a  little  finite  folly 
and  finite  vanity.  In  the  great  art  he  served  and  the  great 
age  he  adorned  Goldsmith  stands,  not  alone,  but  apart, 
with  the  very  human  demigods. 




An  English  ministry  and  an  English  king  were  con- 
vinced that  everything  necessary  to  do  for  the  suppression 
of  the  mutinous  spirit  in  a  turbulent  but  unwarlike  people 
had  been  done.  The  existence  of  Boston  as  a  trading  port 
had  been  abolished;  Carthage  had  been  blotted  out;  there 
was  an  English  army  within  the  walls  of  Boston;  there 
was  an  Ens^lish  fleet  in  the  Charles  River.  Who  could 
doul)t  that  the  cowardlv  farmers  whom  Sandwich  derided, 
and  their  leaders,  the  voluble  lawyers  whom  Sandwich  de- 
spised, would  be  cowed  now  into  quiescence,  only  thankful 
that  things  were  no  worse?  The  best  and  wisest  in  Eng- 
land were  among  those  who  did  doubt,  but  they  were  like 
Benedict  in  the  play — nobody  marked  them,  or  at  least 
nobody  responsible  for  any  control  over  the  conduct  of 
affairs.  Official  confidence  was  suddenly  and  rudely 
shaken.  The  lawyers  proved  to  be  men  of  deeds  as  well 
as  of  words.  The  disdained  farmers  showed  that  the  de- 
scendants of  the  men  who  had  fought  with  beasts  and  with 
Indians  after  the  manner  of  Endicott  and  Standish  had 
not  degenerated  in  the  course  of  a  few  generations.  Over 
the  Atlantic  came  news  which  made  the  Boston  ^lassa- 
cre,  the  burning  of  the  "  Gaspee,"  and  the  Boston  Tea- 
party,  seem  trivial  and  insignificant  events.  An  astound- 
ed Ministry  learned  that  a  formal  Congress  of  Represent- 
atives of  the  different  colonies  had  been  convened  and  had 
met  in  Philadelphia,  and  had  drawn  up  a  Declaration  of 
Rights.  Chatham  admired  and  applauded  their  work.  To 
the  King  and  the  King's  ministers  it  was  meaningless 
when  it  was  not  offensive.  But  the  colonists  showed  that 
they  could  do  more  than  meet  in  Congresses  and  draw  up 

174  A   HISTORY   OF  TUE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  liv. 

splendid  State  Papers.  The  next  news  was  of  acts  of  war. 
Gage  schemed  a  raid  upon  the  stores  of  powder  and  arms 
accumiihited  by  the  disaffected  colonists  in  Concord.  Warn- 
ing of  his  plan  was  carried  at  night  by  a  patriotic  engraver 
named  Paul  Pevere  to  every  hamlet  within  reach  of  a 
horse's  ride.  There  was  a  skirmish  at  Lexington  on  the 
road  to  Concord  between  the  King's  troops  and  a  body 
of  minute-men,  which  resulted  in  the  killing  and  wound- 
ing of  many  of  the  latter  and  the  dispersal  of  their  force. 
An  expedition  that  began  with  what  might  in  irony  be 
termed  a  victory  for  the  British  arms  ended  in  a  disaster 
as  tragic  as  it  was  complete.  Concord  forewarned  had 
nothing  to  yield  to  the  English  soldiers  who  invaded  her 
quiet  streets;  but  the  surrounding  country,  equally  fore- 
warned, answered  the  invasion  by  sending  bodies  of  armed 
farmers  and  minute-men  from  every  point  of  the  compass 
to  the  common  centre  of  Concord.  There  was  a  sharp, 
short  fight  on  Concord  Bridge,  w^hich  ended  in  the  repulse 
of  the  royal  troops  and  the  death  of  brave  men  on  both 
sides.  Then  the  British  officer  decided  to  retreat  from 
Concord.  It  proved  one  of  the  most  memorable  retreats 
in  history.  From  behind  every  tree,  every  bowlder,  every 
wall,  every  hedge,  enemies  trained  in  the  warfare  of  the 
wilderness  poured  their  fire  upon  the  retiring  troops  It 
seemed  to  one  of  the  officers  engaged  in  that  memora])le 
fight  as  if  the  skies  rained  down  foes  upon  them,  unseen 
foes  only  made  known  by  the  accuracy  of  their  marksman- 
ship and  the  pertinacity  of  their  veiled  pursuit.  All  the 
way  from  Concord  the  retiring  troops  fought  in  vain  with 
an  enemy  that  was  seldom  seen,  but  whose  presence  was 
everywhere  manifested  by  the  precision  of  his  aim  and  the 
tale  of  victims  that  followed  each  volley.  The  retreat  was 
becoming:  a  rout  when  reinforcements  sent  out  from  Bos- 
ton  under  the  command  of  Lord  Percy  stayed  an  actual 
stampede.  But  it  could  not  stay  the  retreat  nor  avert 
defeat.  T^ord  Percy,  who  had  marched  out  with  his  bands 
playing  "  Yankee  Doodle,"  in  mockery  of  the  Americans, 
had  to  retreat  in  his  turn  with  no  mocking  music,  carry- 
ing with  him  the  remnant  of  the  invaders  of  Concord.    He 


and  his  force  did  not  get  within  touch  of  Boston  and  the 
protection  of  the  guns  of  the  fleet  a  moment  too  soon. 
Had  a  large  body  of  insurgents,  who  came  hurrying  in  to 
help  their  brethren,  arrived  on  the  field  a  little  earlier. 
Lord  Percy  and  his  command  must  inevitably  have  been 
made  prisoners  of  war.  As  it  was,  this  one  day's  business 
had  given  success  and  the  confidence  that  comes  of  success 
to  the  raw  colonists,  and  had  inflicted  a  crushing  defeat 
upon  a  body  of  soldiers  who  had  been  led  to  believe  that 
the  sight  of  their  scarlet  coats  would  act  like  a  charm  to 
tame  their  untutored  opponents. 

Gage  only  recovered  from  the  shock  of  this  disaster  to 
realize  that  Boston  was  invested  by  an  insurgent  army. 
The  victors  of  the  fight  and  flight  from  Concord  were 
rapidly  reinforced  by  bodies  of  men  from  all  parts  of  the 
country ;  their  ranks  were  hourly  swelled  by  levies  roughly 
armed  but  stubbornly  resolved.  Unpleasant  facts  forced 
themselves  thick  and  fast  upon  Gage's  notice.  But  yes- 
terday, as  it  were,  he  had  imagined  that  the  mere  presence 
of  the  forces  under  his  command  was  sufficient  to  overaAve 
the  colonists  and  settle  any  show  of  insubordination  for- 
ever; to-day  he  had  to  swallow  in  shame  and  anger  a  stag- 
gering defeat.  Still  Gage  did  nothing  and  his  enemies  ac- 
cumulated. Royal  reinforcements  arrived  under  Bur- 
goyne,  Clinton,  and  Howe,  to  do  nothing  in  their  turn. 
But  the  peasants  they  despised  were  not  idle  and  would 
not  allow  them  to  be  idle.  The  English  general  woke  up 
one  morning  to  find  that  under  cover  of  night  an  impor- 
tant point  of  vantage  overlooking  the  town  of  Boston  had 
been  occupied  and  roughly  fortified  by  the  rebels.  The 
citizen  soldiers  who  had  gathered  together  to  defend  their 
liberties  had  stolen  a  march  upon  the  English  general. 
They  had  occupied  the  rising  ground  of  Breed  Hill,  below 
Bunker's  Hill,  on  the  Charlestown  side  of  the  Charles 
River,  and  had  hurriedly  intrenched  themselves  there  be- 
hind rude  but  efficient  earthworks.  Gage  was  resolved  that 
the  rebels  should  not  remain  long  in  their  new  position. 
Chance  might  have  allotted  them  a  scratch  victory  over  a 
small  body  of  men  taken  unawares  in  unfamiliar  country 

176  A   UlSTOKV   UF   TUE  FuLK  GKUKGES.  ch.  liv. 

and  by  unfamiliar  methods  of  fighting.  But  here  was  a 
business  familiar  to  the  British  soldier;  here  was  work 
that  he  did  well  and  that  he  loved  to  do.  If  the  colonists 
really  believed  that  they  could  hold  Breed  Hill  against 
troops  with  whom  the  taking  by  storm  of  strong  positions 
was  a  tradition,  so  much  the  worse  for  them.  The  order 
was  given  that  the  rebels  must  be  cleared  away  from  Breed 
Hill  at  once,  and  the  welcome  task  was  given  to  Lord 
Howe,  in  command  of  the  flower  of  the  forces  in  Boston. 
U  is  probable  that  Howe  felt  some  pity  for  the  rash  and 
foolhardy  men  whose  hopes  it  was  his  duty  and  his  deter- 
mination to  destroy.  Confident  that  the  enterprise  would 
be  as  brief  as  it  must  be  decisive,  Howe  prepared  to  as- 
sault, and  the  battle  of  Breed  Hill  began. 

The  Breed  Hill  battle  is  one  of  the  strangest  and  one  of 
the  bravest  fights  ever  fought  by  men.  On  the  one  side 
were  some  hundreds  of  simple  citizens,  civilians,  skilled  as 
individuals  in  the  use  of  the  gun,  and  accustomed  as 
volunteers,  militia,  and  minute-men  to  something  that 
might  pass  for  drill  and  manoeuvre,  officered  and  general- 
led  by  men  who,  like  Warren  and  Greene,  knew  warfare 
only  by  the  bookish  theoric,  or  by  men  who,  like  Putnam 
and  Pomeroy,  had  taken  their  baptism  of  fire  and  blood 
in  frontier  struggles  with  wild  beast  and  wilder  Indian. 
On  the  other  side  were  some  thousands  of  the  finest  troops 
in  the  world,  in  whose  ranks  victory  was  a  custom,  on 
whose  banners  the  names  of  famous  battles  blazed.  They 
were  well  trained,  well  armed,  well  equipped.  They  moved 
at  the  word  of  command  with  the  monotonous  precision 
and  perfection  of  a  machine.  They  were  led  by  ofTicers 
whose  temper  had  been  tested  again  and  again  in  the  sharp 
experiences  of  war,  men  to  whom  the  thought  of  defeat  was 
as  unfamiliar  as  the  thought  of  fear.  The  contrast  be- 
tween the  two  opposing  forces  was  vividly  striking  in  the 
very  habiliments  of  the  opponents.  The  men  who  were 
massed  behind  the  breastworks  of  Breed  Hill  were  inno- 
cent of  uniform,  of  the  bright  attire  that  makes  the  sol- 
dier's life  alluring,  innocent  even  of  any  distinction  be- 
tween officer  and  private,  or,  if  the  words  seem  too  formal 

1775.  THE   BATTLE   OF  BREED  HILL.  177 

for  so  raw  a  force,  between  the  men  who  were  in  command 
and  the  men  who  were  commanded.  The  soldiers  who  were 
massed  below,  the  force  whose  duty  it  was  to  march 
up  the  hill  and  sweep  away  the  handful  in  hodden  gray 
and  black  broadcloth  who  held  it,  glittered  with  all  the 
bravery  of  color  dear  to  the  British  army.  Splendid  in 
scarlet  and  white  and  gold,  every  buckle  shining,  every  belt 
and  bandolier  as  brightly  clean  as  pipeclay  could  make  it, 
the  little  army  under  Howe's  command  would  have  done 
credit  to  a  parade  in  the  Park  or  a  field  day  at  Windsor. 
The  one  side  was  as  sad  and  sombre  as  a  Puritan  prayer- 
meeting;  the  other  glowed  with  all  the  color  and  warmth 
of  a  military  pageant.  The  holders  of  the  hill  had  come 
from  their  farms  and  their  fields  in  the  homely  working 
clothes  they  wore  as  they  followed  the  plough  or  tended 
their  cattle ;  the  townsmen  among  them  came  in  the  decent 
civic  suits  they  wore  behind  their  desks  or  counters.  Few 
men's  weapons  were  fellows  in  that  roughly  armed  array. 
Each  militant  citizen  carried  his  own  gun,  some  favorite 
weapon,  familiar  from  long  practice  in  fowling,  or  from 
frequent  service  further  afield  against  the  bear,  the  panther, 
and  the  wolf.  Some  of  the  flint-locks  were  enormously 
long;  many  of  them  would  have  seemed  extremely  old- 
fashioned  to  an  ordnance  officer.  But  every  gun  was  like 
an  additional  limb  to  those  practised  marksmen,  who  knew 
little  of  firing  in  platoons,  but  everything  of  the  patient  ac- 
curacy which  gives  the  backwoodsman  his  unerring  aim. 
The  assailants  carried  the  latest  weapons  approved  of  by 
the  War  Office,  and  manipulated  them  with  the  faultless 
unison  and  unswerving  harmony  that  would  have  com- 
pelled the  compliments  of  a  commander-in-chief  at  a  re- 
view. At  the  top  of  the  hill  were  some  sixteen  hundred 
men,  a  mob  of  undisciplined  sharpshooters,  few  of  whom 
liad  ever  fired  a  shot  in  organized  warfare.  At  the  bot- 
tom of  the  hill  were  some  four  thousand  of  the  finest 
troops  in  the  world,  stiffened  with  all  the  strength  that 
prestige  and  practice  could  give  them.  It  did  not  seem 
on  the  face  of  it  a  very  eqiial  combat;  it  did  not  seem  to 
the  English  generals  that  it  ought  to  take  very  long  to 

178  A   HISTORY   OF   THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  liv. 

march  from  tlie  bottom  to  the  top  of  the  hill  and  make 
short  work  of  the  mutinous  peasants  on  its  summit.  The 
best  indeed  that  the  mutinous  peasants  could  hope  for 
when  the  British  were  upon  them  was  to  be  shot  or  bayo- 
neted as  quickly  as  possible,  for  the  terms  of  Gage's  procla- 
mation directly  threatened  with  the  gallows  every  rebel 
taken  with  arms  in  his  hands. 

But  at  Breed  Hill,  as  at  Concord,  the  unexpected  came 
to  pass.  The  British  troops  were  unable  to  endure  the 
destructive  tire  of  the  colonists.  Again  and  again  they 
advanced  over  the  incline  as  calmly  as  if  on  parade ;  again 
and  again  they  reeled  backward  with  shattered  ranks, 
leaving  grim  piles  of  dead  upon  the  fire-swept  slope.  The 
execution  was  terrible ;  regiments  that  marched  up  the  hill 
as  if  to  certain  victory  fell  back  from  it  a  mere  remnant 
of  themselves,  leaving  most  of  their  men  and  almost  all 
their  officers  behind.  For  awhile  the  fight  was  a  succession 
of  catastrophes  to  the  force  under  Howe's  command.  It 
looked  as  if  Breed  Hill  w^ould  never  be  taken.  But  there 
came  a  time  when  the  men  who  held  it  could  hold  it  no 
longer.  Their  supply  of  powder  began  to  run  out,  and 
with  their  means  of  keeping  up  their  fire  their  power  of 
holding  their  position  came  to  an  end.  Then  came  a  last 
charge  of  Howe's  rallied  forces,  this  time  in  the  lightest 
of  marching  array,  a  last  volley  from  behind  the  earth- 
works, and  Breed  Hill  was  in  the  hands  of  the  British. 
It  was  captured  at  the  last  without  much  l:)loodshed,  with- 
out much  loss  to  its  garrison.  The  smoke  hung  so  thick 
about  the  enclosure  where  the  rebels  had  held  their  own  so 
long  and  so  well  that  it  was  not  easy  for  the  bayonets  of 
the  conquerors  to  do  much  execution,  and  the  defenders 
of  Breed  Hill  slipped  away  for  the  most  part  under  cover 
of  the  mist  they  themselves  had  made.  Indeed,  there  was 
little  inclination  for  pursuit  on  the  part  of  the  victors. 
They  had  done  what  they  had  been  set  to  do,  but  they  had 
done  it  at  a  cost  which  for  the  time  made  it  impossible  for 
them  to  attempt  to  pursue  an  advantage  so  dearly  bought. 
They  did  not,  could  not  know  the  strength  of  their  enemy; 
they  were  content  to  hold  the  ground  which  had  been  won 


with  such  a  fearful  waste  of  British  blood.  Breed  Hill 
was  a  nominal  victory  for  the  King;  it  was  a  real  victory 
for  the  rebels,  who  had  shown  what  an  undisciplined  force, 
composed  of  farmers,  trappers,  lawyers,  shopkeepers,  and 
divines,  could  do  against  the  finest  troops  in  the  world. 

Already  insurgent  America  had  an  army,  and  an  army 
of  investment.  The  rebels,  whom  Gage  affected  to  despise 
almost  as  much  as  he  was  himself  despised  by  General 
Burgoyne,  were  massed  in  numbers  unknown  to  the  loyal- 
ists before  Boston,  and  the  English  soldiers  were  cooped  up 
in  the  city  they  had  crossed  the  seas  to  command.  The 
colonial  army  was  rude  and  rough,  but  earnest  and  reso- 
lute, and  it  had  evolved  generals  of  its  own  making,  rough 
and  rude  as  itself,  but  able,  daring,  and  fearless.  Israel 
Putnam,  who  killed  a  wolf  once  with  his  own  hands  in 
his  wild  youth,  gripping  it  by  the  throat  till  he  had  choked 
its  life  out,  had  come  to  fight  against  the  flag  beneath 
which  he  had  fought  so  well  in  the  French  wars.  Na- 
thaniel Greene  had  flung  down  his  military  books  and 
caught  up  the  sword,  had  abandoned  the  theory  for  the 
practice,  and  was  beginning  to  make  a  name.  Benedict 
Arnold,  after  a  life  as  varied,  as  shady,  and  as  adventurous 
as  that  of  any  picaroon  in  a  Spanish  story,  leaped  into 
fame  as  a  daring  spirit  by  the  way  in  which  he  and  Ethan 
Allen,  at  the  head  of  a  mixed  force  of  Vermonters  and 
New  Englanders,  had  taken  Fort  Ticonderoga,  on  the 
great  lakes,  by  surprise,  and  had  endowed  the  dawning 
army  with  its  captured  cannon.  Prescott,  the  hero  of 
Breed  Hill,  was  now  a  veteran  soldier;  and  the  names  of 
Artemas  Ward,  of  Schuyler,  of  Pomeroy,  Heath  and 
Thomas,  Sullivan  and  Montgomery,  Wooster  and  Spencer 
were  becoming  more  than  mere  names  to  Englishmen  in 
Boston  and  in  London.  Two  Englishmen  held  rank  as 
generals  in  the  crude  colonial  army — the  adventurer 
Charles  Lee,  whom  some  foolish  people  believed  to  be  the 
real  Junius,  and  Horatio  Gates.  There  were  few  thor- 
oughly worthless  men  in  the  young  army,  but  it  is  painful 
to  record  that  Lee  and  Gates  were  eminent  among  them. 
These  were  the  generals  of  what  was  now  to  be  called  the 

180  A    HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ce.  liv. 

Continental  Army.  Happy  in  most  of  them,  happy  in 
much,  it  was  happiest  of  all  in  this:  that  it  had  for  its 
commander-in-chief  the  noblest  man,  who  was  to  prove 
the  greatest  soldier,  then  living  in  the  world. 

When  Braddock  died,  the  hero  of  a  hopeless  fight  and  the 
martyr  of  his  own  folly,  the  funeral  service  was  read  over 
liis  body  by  the  young  Virginian  soldier  who  had  fought 
by  his  side  and  had  warned  him  against  his  rashness.  To 
men  in  later  years  there  seemed  to  be  something  prophetic, 
with  the  blended  irony  and  pathos  of  prophecy,  in  the 
picture  of  that  dead  Englishman,  his  scarlet  coat  torn  and 
bloody  with  so  many  wounds,  lying  in  his  grave  while  his 
American  lieutenant  read  over  him  the  words  that  com- 
mitted so  much  wasted  courage  to  the  earth.  At  the  time 
and  hour  the  thing  signified  no  more  than  the  price  of  a 
petty  victory  of  allied  French  and  Indians,  which  the  Vir- 
ginian soldier  was  soon  to  avenge.  After  planting  the 
banner  of  King  George  on  the  ruins  of  Fort  Duquesne, 
Captain  Washington  sheathed  his  sword  and  retired  from 
military  into  civil  life,  with  as  little  likelihood  as  desire 
of  ever  carrying  arms  again.  All  he  asked  and  all  he  an- 
ticipated was  to  live  the  tranquil  life  of  a  comfortable 
colonial  gentleman.  After  a  youth  that  had  been  vexed 
by  many  experiences  of  the  passion  of  love  he  had  married 
happily  and  wisely,  and  had  settled  down  to  a  gracious 
rural  life  at  Mount  Vernon,  on  the  banks  of  the  Potomac 
Eiver.  He  wished  no  better  than  to  be  a  country  gentleman, 
with  a  country  gentleman's  pleasures  and  pursuits — farm- 
ing, hunting,  fishing — with  a  country  gentleman's  friend- 
ships for  neighbors  like  himself.  He  was  a  dutiful  servant 
of  his  State;  he  was  a  member  of  the  Virginia  Houses  of 
Burgesses  for  fifteen  years  after  the  fall  of  Fort  Duquesne, 
and  though  he  seldom  played  any  part  in  debate  he  com- 
manded the  confidence  and  the  esteem  of  his  colleagues 
and  of  his  fellow-citizens.  He  lived  and  enjoj^ed  a  peace- 
ful, honorable,  useful,  uneventful  life,  and  might  have 
lived  it  to  its  end  in  dignified  obscurity  if  a  rash  and  head- 
strong sovereign  over-seas  had  not  found  ministers  too 
servile  or  too  foolish  to  say  him  nay. 

1775.  GEORGE   WASHINGTON.  181 

The  Continental  Congress,  conscious  of  Washington's 
ability,  offered  him  the  command  of  its  improvised  army. 
Washington  accepted  the  duty,  well  aware  of  its  gravity, 
its  danger,  its  awful  responsibility.  He  refused  any  pay 
beyond  his  actual  expenses,  and  he  entered  upon  a  struggle 
whose  difficulties  were  not  all  or  nearly  all  due  to  the 
enemy  in  the  sternest  and  noblest  sense  of  duty  to  his 
countrymen  and  to  the  principles  of  liberty.  At  first,  in  his 
own  words,  he  loathed  the  idea  of  independence.  He  only 
took  up  arms  to  defend  cherished  rights;  the  day  was  not 
yet,  though  the  day  was  not  far  off,  when  the  Virginian 
soldier  would  renounce  his  allegiance  to  the  King  whose 
commission  he  had  carried  and  to  the  country  from  which 
his  race  stemmed.  Washington's  military  genius  soon 
showed  itself  in  the  use  he  made  of  the  loose,  incoherent, 
disorganized  mass  of  men  which  was  called  the  Continental 
Army.  It  was  fortunate  for  the  Continental  cause  that  the 
English  generals,  penned  up  within  the  walls  of  Boston, 
had  little  idea  of  the  obstacles  Washington  had  to  over- 
come, the  opposition  he  had  to  encounter,  the  sore  straits 
to  which  the  want  of  everything  essential  to  a  besieging 
army  drove  him.  But  his  indomitable  courage,  his  unfail- 
ing coolness,  his  unconquerable  resource  overcame  a  sea  of 
troubles  that  might  well  have  swept  even  a  strong  man 
and  a  brave  soldier  off  his  feet.  With  regiment  after  regi- 
ment quietly  disbanding  as  their  term  of  service  expired; 
with  a  plentiful  lack  of  powder,  of  arms,  of  provisions,  of 
uniforms;  w^ith  a  force  that  at  moments  threatened  to  dis- 
solve into  nothingness  and  leave  him  with  a  handful  of 
generals  alone  beneath  his  insurgent  flag,  Washington 
never  allowed  the  enemy,  and  seldom  allowed  a  friend,  to 
guess  how  near  at  times  he  came  to  despair.  He  raised 
troops  somehow;  he  got  provisions  somehow;  somehow  he 
managed  to  o])tain  powder ;  somehow  he  managed  to  obtain 
arms.  The  want  of  weapons  was  so  great  that  many 
bodies  of  men  were  only  provided  with  pikes,  and  that 
Franklin  was  driven  to  suggest,  and  partly  in  a  spirit  of 
humanity,  that  American  farmers  fighting  for  their  liberty 
should  be  armed  with  the  bows  and  arrows  of  the  red 

182  A   HISTORY    OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  uv. 

men,  iiiul  should  strive  to  renew  upon  the  fields  of  Massa- 
chusetts the  successes  of  their  ancestors,  the  yeomen  of 
Agincourt,  with  their  clothyard  shafts. 

The  generals  shut  up  in  Boston  knew  nothing  of  the 
cares  that  harassed  the  mind  of  Washington.  All  they  knew 
was  that  they  were  closely  heleaguered;  that  they  were 
cooped  up  in  Boston  by  a  large  if  irregular  army,  and  that 
they  could  not  get  out.  They  affected,  of  course,  to  de- 
spise their  enemy.  At  the  private  theatricals  which  were 
given  to  divert  the  enforced  leisure  of  Lord  Howe  an  actor 
who  came  on  as  a  caricature  of  Washington,  attired  like  a 
military  scarecrow,  never  failed  to  please.  Burgoyne  was 
confident  that  sooner  or  later  he  could  find  that  "  elbow- 
room  "  the  ungratified  desire  for  which  has  served  to  im- 
mortalize his  name.  But  neither  Howe  nor  Burgoyne  nor 
any  one  else  could  dissipate  the  ragged  regiments  that  in- 
vested Boston,  nor  baffle  the  plans  of  the  great  soldier 
who  commanded  them.  For  nearly  a  year  the  world  saw 
with  wonder  the  spectacle  of  an  English  army  confined  in 
Boston,  and  an  English  fleet  riding  idly  in  the  Charles 
River.  Then  the  end  came.  AVashington,  closing  in,  of- 
fered Lord  Howe,  the  English  general  then  in  command, 
the  choice  of  evacuation  or  bombardment.  The  English 
general  chose  the  former.  The  royal  troops  withdrew  from 
Boston,  taking  with  them  the  loyalist  families  who  had 
thrown  in  their  lot  with  the  King's  cause.  The  English 
ships  that  sailed  from  Boston  were  terribly  overcrowded 
with  the  number  of  refugees  who  preferred  flight,  with  all 
its  attendant  sorrows,  to  remaining  in  a  rebellious  country. 
The  English  fleet  sailed  away  from  Boston  and  the  Con- 
tinental Army  marched  in.  So  far  the  cause  of  King 
George  was  going  very  badly  indeed ;  so  far  the  rebellious 
colonists  had  failed  to  justify  the  confident  prophecies 
of  Tjord  Sandwich.  With  any  other  king  and  with  any 
other  ministers  one  such  year's  work  would  have  been 
enough  at  least  to  induce  them  to  reconsider  their  position. 
But  the  King  was  George  the  Third,  and  his  ministers 
were  what  they  were,  and  it  was  resolved  that  the  war 
must  go  on. 


The  war  did  go  on.  It  lasted  for  five  years  more,  in 
spite  of  the  protests  of  ever}^  truly  patriotic  Englishman, 
in  spite  of  proof  after  proof  that  nothing  could  break  the 
spirit  or  crush  the  courage  of  the  colonists.  While  in  Eng- 
land Fox  arrayed  himself  in  the  blue  and  buff  that  com- 
posed the  uniform  of  the  Continental  Army,  while  the 
Duke  of  Richmond  made  it  a  point  to  speak,  and  with  ex- 
cellent reason,  of  the  Continental  Army  as  "  our  army," 
while  the  eloquence  of  Chatham  and  the  eloquence  of 
Burke  were  launched  in  vain  against  campaigns  as  idle  as 
they  were  infamous,  the  war  went  stubbornly  on.  The 
King  and  his  ministers  proposed  new  measures  of  repres- 
sion and  expended  vast  sums  in  the  purchase  of  Hessian 
regiments  to  dragoon  the  defiant  colonists.  Soon  all  pre- 
tence of  loyalty  had  to  be  abandoned  by  the  Americans. 
The  statue  of  King  George  was  dragged  from  its  place  of 
honor  in  Bowling  Green,  New  York,  and  run  into  bullets 
to  be  used  against  his  German  levies.  In  the  summer 
that  followed  the  evacuation  of  Boston  the  rebellious 
colonies  proclaimed  their  independence  in  the  most 
memorable  declaration  of  a  people's  right  ever  made  by 
men.  This  was  in  1776.  The  disastrous  war  had  still  five 
years  to  run. 

The  fortunes  of  the  war  varied.  The  early  victories  of 
the  Americans  were  followed  by  a  series  of  defeats  which 
left  Philadelphia  in  the  hands  of  the  British,  and  which 
would  have  broken  the  heart  of  any  man  of  less  heroic 
mould  than  Washington.  Hope  revived  with  a  series  of 
Continental  victories.  Aid  came  to  America  from  abroad. 
France,  Germany,  Poland  sent  stout  soldiers  to  fight  for 
freedom — Lafayette,  Von  Steuben,  Kosciusko.  The  Eng- 
lish general  Burgoyne  surrendered  with  all  his  army  at 
Saratoga.  After  the  winter  of  1777,  when  Washington 
and  his  army  suffered  all  the  rigors  of  Valley  Forge, 
France  acknowledged  the  independence  of  America,  the 
British  evacuated  Philadelphia,  and  Paul  Jones  made  him- 
self forever  famous  by  the  way  in  which  he  and  his  ship 
"  Le  Bonhomme  Eichard,''  carried  the  American  war  to 
the  coast  of  England.     Again  came  colonial  reverses.     A 

184  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  uv. 

steady  siifcossion  of  English  successes  scarcely  struck  so 
hard  a  blow  at  the  Continental  cause  as  the  treason  of 
Benedict  Arnold,  who  entered  into  negotiations  with  the 
British  to  betray  his  command.  Washington  had  trusted 
and  loved  Arnold  like  a  brother.  "  Whom  can  I  trust 
now?-'  he  asked  in  momentary  despair  when  the  capture 
of  an  English  officer,  Major  Andre,  and  the  flight  of  Bene- 
dict Arnold  to  the  British  lines  revealed  to  him  an  un- 
dreamed-of treason  which  had  threatened  to  undermine 
the  colonial  cause.  But  Benedict  Arnold's  crime  had  for 
its  only  result  the  death  of  a  better  man  than  himself,  of 
Major  Andre,  who  had  by  the  laws  of  war  to  suffer  death 
as  a  spy.  There  were  other  traitors  and  semi-traitors  in 
the  American  army :  Lee  was  certainly  the  first ;  Gates 
was  almost,  if  not  quite,  the  second.  But  Lee  and  Gates 
failed  to  do  the  mischief  to  which  their  base  jealousy  of 
Washington  prompted  them.  The  right  cause  triumphed. 
In  1781  another  British  army  surrendered,  the  army  of 
Cornwallis,  at  Yorktown.  Even  North  was  forced  to 
recognize  that  this  crushing  disaster  to  the  royal  hopes  and 
the  royal  arms  practically  ended  the  war.  It  w^as  sus- 
pended in  the  following  year,  and  in  1783,  after  much 
negotiation,  which  at  times  threatened  to  come  to  nothing, 
a  treaty  of  peace  was  signed  in  France,  and  the  American 
Republic  took  its  place  among  the  nations  of  the  earth. 
It  was  for  these  negotiations  that  Franklin,  as  we  have 
said,  brought  out  from  its  obscurity  that  gala  suit  which 
he  had  worn  for  the  last  time  when  he  stood  at  the  bar  of 
the  House  of  Commons  and  listened  to  the  brutal  and 
foolish  assaults  of  Wedderburn.  Many  days  had  passed 
since  that  day. 

So  ended  one  of  the  most  unjust  and  one  of  the  most 
foolish  wars  ever  waged  by  England.  It  must  never  be 
forgotten  that  the  war  was  in  no  sense  an  English  war. 
The  English  people  as  a  whole  had  then  no  voice  to  ex- 
press itself  one  way  or  the  other.  Of  those  Englishmen 
whose  voices  had  to  be  heard,  the  best  and  the  wisest  were 
as  angry  in  their  denunciations  of  the  crime  of  the  King 
and  the  King's  ministers,  and  as  cordial  in  their  admira- 

1778.  DEATH  OF  THE  EARL   OF  CHATHAM.  185 

tion  of  Washington  and  his  companions,  as  if  they  had 
been  members  of  that  Continental  Congress  which  first 
in  Philadelphia  proclaimed  the  existence  of  a  new  nation. 
The  fatal  war  which  had  cost  the  English  King  the  loss 
of  his  greatest  colonies,  which  had  spilt  a  vast  amount  of 
blood  and  wasted  a  vast  amount  of  treasure  in  order  to 
call  into  being  a  strong  and  naturally  resentful  rival  to  the 
power  of  England,  must  be  said  also  to  have  cost  the  life 
of  the  greatest  English  statesman  of  the  century.  The 
genius  of  Chatham  had  never  been  more  nobly  employed 
than  in  protesting  with  all  the  splendor  of  its  eloquence 
against  the  unjust  war  upon  the  Americans  and  the  un- 
just deeds  which  had  heralded  the  war.  But  time,  that 
had  only  swelled  the  ranks  of  the  wise  and  sane  who 
thought  as  Chatham  had  thought  and  found  their  own 
utterance  from  the  fire  of  his  words,  had  wrought  a  change 
in  the  attitude  of  a  great  statesman.  Harassed  by  the 
disease  that  racked  his  body,  the  mind  of  Chatham  had 
altered.  The  noble  views  that  he  had  maintained  in  de- 
fiance of  a  headstrong  king  and  a  corrupt  ministry  had 
changed  in  the  face  of  the  succession  of  calamities  that 
had  fallen  upon  his  country.  The  success  that  he  had  de- 
sired for  the  insurgent  arms  had  been  accorded,  and  he 
came  to  despair  at  the  consequence  of  that  success.  He  had 
been  granted  his  heart's  desire  in  full  measure,  and  the 
gratification  choked  him.  When  it  came  to  be  a  ques- 
tion of  conceding  to  the  colonists  that  formal  recognition 
of  an  independence  which  they  had  already  won,  the  in- 
tellect of  Chatham  revolted  against  the  policy  himself  had 
fostered.  He  forgot  or  he  forswore  the  principles  which 
animated  Burke,  which  animated  Fox,  which  guided  the 
course  of  Rockingham  and  inspired  the  utterances  of  Rich- 
mond. All  he  could  see  was  an  England  humiliated  by 
many  defeats,  an  England  threatened  by  many  terrible 
alliances,  and  in  the  face  of  humiliation  and  of  menace 
he  forgot  that  both  alike  were  the  inevitable,  the  well- 
deserved  fruit  of  injustice.  Remembering  that  he  had 
helped  to  make  England  great,  he  refused  to  remember 
that  England  would  have  been  still  greater  if  she  had  fol- 

186  A   HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  Lir. 

lowed  the  honorable  course  his  wisdom  had  made  plain  to 
her.  His  proud,  unhappy  spirit  could  not  consent  to 
her  dismemberment,  a  dismemberment  which  seemed  to 
his  fading  intellect  to  be  the  equivalent  to  her  ruin.  He 
came  from  his  sick  bed,  a  ghastly  image  of  decay,  to  offer 
the  desperate  protest  of  a  dying  man  against  surrender 
to  the  mutiny  his  own  eloquence  had  fanned.  "  Come  the 
four  quarters  of  the  world  in  arms  and  we  will  shock 
them."  The  spirit  of  Faulconbridge  was  strong  in  the 
ruined  body  of  the  statesman  who  was  carried  to  his  seat 
in  the  House  of  Lords  by  the  son  who  bore  his  name  and 
by  the  Lord  Mahon  who  had  married  his  daughter.  His 
eagle  face  was  turned  against  the  men  who  had  been  his 
colleagues.  His  trembling  hand  pointed  at  them  in  con- 
demnation. He  gasped  out  a  few  sentences,  almost  inar- 
ticulate, almost  inaudible,  before  he  reeled  in  a  fit  upon 
the  arms  of  those  about  him.  He  was  carried  from  the 
House ;  he  was  carried  to  Hayes,  and  at  Hayes  a  few  weeks 
later  the  great  career  came  to  an  end.  His  last  battle  was 
at  least  heroic.  If  his  stroke  was  struck  on  the  wrong  side 
and  for  a  cause  his  prime  had  done  so  much  to  baffle,  it 
is  not  necessary  to  attribute  his  perversion  entirely  to  the 
insidious  ravages  of  the  malady  that  had  clouded  his  whole 
life.  He  could  not  bear  to  see  the  countrv  that  was  in 
so  eminent  and  so  intimate  a  sense  his  country  yield  even 
to  claims  that  were  conspicuously  right  and  just  at  the 
command  of  a  league  between  England's  rebellious  chil- 
dren and  England's  enemy,  France.  There  broke  his 
mighty  heart.  In  Chatham  England  lost  one  of  the  great- 
est of  her  statesmen,  one  of  the  most  splendid  of  her  sons. 
His  life  was  passionately  devoted  to  his  country,  his  career 
one  long  struggle  against  a  peculiarly  bigoted,  stubborn, 
and  unwise  King.  Always  hated  by  his  enemies,  often 
misunderstood  by  his  friends,  he  showed  while  he  lived  a 
steadfast  front  alike  against  the  enemies  of  England 
abroad  and  those  worse  enemies  of  England  at  home  who 
filled  the  throne  and  the  places  about  the  throne.  He  was 
buried  with  great  pomp  and  honor  at  Westminster,  leaving 
behind  him  not  merely  the  memory  of  an  illustrious  name. 

1781.  ENGLAND   AND   HER   LOST   COLONIES.  187 

but  a  name  that  the  second  generation  was  still  to  make 

The  folly  of  the  King  and  the  servility  of  his  ministers 
resulted  in  what  seemed  to  be  almost  an  irredeemable 
catastrophe  for  England.  Even  those  Englishmen  who 
most  sympathized  with  the  struggle  for  American  inde- 
pendence could  not  but  feel  a  regret  that  men  who  might 
have  been  among  the  most  glorious  citizens  of  a  great  and 
united  empire  should  be  thus  recklessly  forced  into  an 
enmity  that  had  deprived  England  of  its  most  splendid 
possessions.  The  enemies  of  England,  many  and  eager, 
believed  her  day  was  done,  that  her  sun  was  setting,  that 
neither  her  power  nor  her  prestige  would  ever  recover 
from  the  succession  of  disasters  that  began  at  Lexington 
and  that  ended  in  Paris.  But  the  vitality  of  the  country 
was  too  great  to  be  seriously  impaired  even  by  the  loss  of 
the  American  colonies.  From  a  blow  that  might  well  have 
been  little  less  than  fatal  the  country  recovered  with  a 
readiness  and  a  rapidity  that  was  amazing.  Men  who  in 
their  youth  heard  their  elders  speak  with  despair  of  the 
calamity  that  had  befallen  their  country  lived  to  old  age 
to  learn  that  the  wound  was  not  incurable,  and  that  Eng- 
land was  greater,  richer,  prouder,  and  more  powerful  than 
she  had  ever  been  before.  If  she  had  lost  the  American 
colonies  she  had  learned  a  lesson  in  the  loss.  The  blow 
that  might  have  stunned  only  served  to  rouse  her  to  a 
greater  sense  of  her  danger  and  a  livelier  consciousness  of 
her  duty.  If  she  had  suffered  much  from  rashness  she  was 
not  going  to  suffer  more  from  inaction,  and  it  seemed  as  if 
every  source  of  strength  in  the  kingdom  knit  itself  together 
in  the  common  purpose  of  showing  to  the  world  that  Eng- 
land still  was  England,  although  a  part  of  her  empire  had 
passed  away  from  her  forever.  There  was  no  glory  to  be 
got  for  England  out  of  the  American  war;  it  was  wrong 
from  first  to  last,  wrong,  unjust,  and  foolish,  but  when  it 
ended  it  did  not  find  her  crippled,  nor  did  it  leave  her 
permanently  enfeebled  in  temper  or  in  strength. 

We  may  gather  some  idea  of  what  risk  wise  men  felt 
they  were  running  from  a  famous  speech  of  Edmund 

188  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  liv. 

Burke.  He  was  striving  to  stay  the  determination  of  the 
Ministry  to  declare  war  upon  tlie  American  colonies.  He 
wished  his  hearers  to  appreciate  the  progress  that  America 
had  made  within  living  memory.  He  called  imaginatiqn 
to  his  aid.  He  spoke  of  a  statesman  then  living  in  the  late 
evening  of  an  honorable  life.  He  pictured  that  statesman 
in  the  promise  of  his  early  dawn,  saluted  by  the  angel  of 
his  auspicious  youth,  and  given  the  power  to  see  into  the 
future,  so  far  as  to  the  hour  when  Burke  was  speaking. 
*'  What,"  said  Burke,  "  if  while  he  was  gazing  with  ad- 
miration on  the  then  commercial  grandeur  of  England 
the  genius  should  point  out  to  him  a  little  speck,  scarce 
visible  in  the  mass  of  the  nation's  interest,  and  should  tell 
him,  '  Young  man,  there  is  America,  which  at  this  day 
serves  for  little  more  than  to  amuse  you  with  stories  of 
savage  men  and  uncouth  manners,  yet  before  you  taste  of 
death  will  show  itself  equal  to  the  whole  of  that  commerce 
which  now  attracts  the  envy  of  the  world.  Whatever  Eng- 
land has  been  growing  to  by  a  progressive  increase  of  im- 
provement, brought  in  by  varieties  of  people,  hy  succes- 
sion of  civilizing  conquests  and  civilizing  settlements  in 
a  series  of  seventeen  hundred  years,  you  shall  see  as  much 
added  to  her  by  America  in  the  course  of  a  single  life !'  If 
this  state  of  his  country  had  been  foretold  to  him,  would 
it  not  require  all  the  sanguine  credulity  of  youth  and  all 
the  fervid  glow  of  enthusiasm  to  make  him  believe  it? 
Fortunate  man,  he  has  lived  to  see  it."  If  the  genius  of 
prophecy  could  have  stood  by  Burke's  shoulder  then,  and 
illuminated  his  noble  soul  with  the  knowledge  that  is  the 
common  possession  of  mankind  to-day,  would  it  not  have 
required  all  the  sanguine  credulity,  all  the  divine  enthusi- 
asm of  genius  to  make  him  believe  it? 

The  war  that  gave  the  world  a  new  nation  and  a  republic 
greater  than  Rome  added  one  of  the  greatest  names,  and 
perhaps  the  noblest  name,  to  the  roll-call  of  the  great  cap- 
tains of  the  earth.  No  soldier  of  all  those  that  the  eyes 
of  Dante  discerned  in  the  first  circle,  not  even  "  Caesar, 
all  armored  with  gerfalcon  eyes,"  adorns  the  annals  of 
antiquity  more  than  George  Washington  illuminates  the 

1732-99.  THE  DEATH   OF  WASHINGTON.  189 

last  quarter  of  the  eigliteenih  century.  His  splendid 
strength,  his  sweet  austerity,  his  proud  patience  are  hardly 
to  be  rivalled  in  the  previous  history  of  humanity,  and 
have  perhaps  only  been  rivalled  since  his  day  by  children 
of  the  same  continent  and  of  the  same  southern  soil,  who 
sacrificed  qualities  much  akin  to  his  own  on  a  cause  that, 
unlike  his,  was  not  the  cause  of  freedom.  "  First  in 
peace,  first  in  war,  and  first  in  the  hearts  of  his  country- 
men." The  phrase  of  Lee  has  been  worn  threadbare  with 
iteration  since  it  was  first  uttered,  but  it  always  rings  true 
of  the  high-minded,  unfaltering  soldier  and  honorable, 
simple  gentleman  w^hose  genius  in  w^ar  and  whose  modesty 
in  peace  made  the  republic  of  America  an  enduring  fact  in 
history.  Long  after  the  great  soldier  and  good  man  had 
been  laid  to  rest  an  English  poet  did  him  justice,  and  no 
more  than  justice,  by  writing  that  "  the  first,  the  last,  the 
best,  the  Cincinnatus  of  the  West,  whom  envy  dared  not 
hate,  bequeathed  the  name  of  Washington  to  make  man 
blush  there  was  but  one."  Washins^ton  was  made  the  first 
President  of  the  American  Republic  in  1789,  after  reso- 
lutely resisting  all  suggestions  to  make  himself  king  of  the 
new  commonwealth.  He  served  for  two  terms  of  four 
3^ears  each,  and  then  retired  into  private  life,  unembittered 
by  the  cruel  and  stupid  ingratitude  of  the  few  and  un- 
spoiled by  the  reasoned  and  grateful  homage  of  the  many. 
He  died  in  1799  in  his  quiet  home  in  Mount  Vernon,  while 
the  King  who  still  regarded  him  as  a  rebel  had  many  years 
of  his  unquiet  reign  to  live. 




In  the  year  1778  Sir  George  Savile  earned  for  himself 
an  honorable  distinction  by  passing  his  measure  for  the 
relief  of  Koman  Catholics.  Sir  George  Savile  was  a  man 
of  advanced  views;  he  fought  gallantly  in  the  House  of 
Commons  through  five  successive  Parliaments,  in  which 
he  represented  York  County,  for  all  measures  which  he 
believed  to  be  sincerely  patriotic,  and  against  all  measures 
which  he  believed  to  be  opposed  to  the  honorable  interests 
of  his  country.  He  gained  the  laurel  of  praise  from  Burke, 
who,  in  one  of  his  famous  Bristol  speeches,  spoke  of  him 
as  a  true  genius,  "  with  an  understanding  vigorous,  acute, 
relined,  distinguishing  even  to  excess;  and  illuminated 
with  a  most  unbounded,  peculiar,  and  original  cast  of 
imagination."  The  man  whom  Burke  thus  generously 
praised  deserved  the  praises.  He  strove  earnestly  against 
the  American  war.  He  enthusiastically  supported  Pitt's 
motion  in  1783  for  a  reform  in  Parliament.  He  was  the 
author  of  an  admirable  Bill  for  the  Limitation  of  the 
Claims  of  the  Crown  upon  Landed  Estates.  But  his  name 
is  chiefly  associated  with  his  Bill  for  Catholic  Relief,  both 
because  of  the  excellent  purpose  of  the  measure  itself,  and 
because  of  the  remarkable  outburst  of  fanaticism  which 
followed  it. 

Sir  George  Savile's  measure  did  away  with  certain  re- 
strictions, certain  barbarous  restrictions,  as  they  now  seem, 
upon  English  subjects  professing  the  Catholic  faith.  The 
famous  Act  of  the  eleventh  and  twelfth  years  of  King 
William  the  Third,  the  Act  known  as  the  Act  for  the  Eur- 
ther  Preventing  the  Growth  of  Popery,  had  instituted 
certain  very  harsh  penal  enactments  against   Catholics. 


That  Act  Sir  George  Savile  proposed  largely  to  repeal. 
This  was  a  measure  of  relief  of  no  great  magnitude,  but  it 
did  at  least  recognize  the  common  humanity  of  Catholic 
Englishmen  with  Protestant  Englishmen;  it  did  at  least 
allow  to  Catholic  Englishmen  some  of  the  dearest  and 
most  obvious  rights  of  citizenship.  The  savage  penal  laws 
which  for  so  long  afflicted  the  sister  island  of  Ireland  were 
tempered  and  abrogated  in  this  measure  as  far  as  England 
was  concerned,  and  rujnor  spread  it  abroad  that  a  similar 
relief  was  soon  to  be  extended  to  the  Catholics  of  Scotland. 
Straightway  a  Bill  which  had  passed  both  Houses  without 
a  single  negative  aroused  the  fiercest  opposition  beyond 
the  Border.  The  announcement  of  the  recall  of  the  Stu- 
arts could  not  have  spread  a  greater  panic  through  the 
ranks  of  the  Scottish  Protestants.  A  violent  agitation 
was  set  on  foot,  an  agitation  which  could  not  have  been 
more  violent  if  the  Highlanders  had  once  again  been  at 
the  gates  of  Edinburgh.  An  alarmist  spirit  spread  abroad. 
All  manner  of  associations  and  societies  were  called  into 
being  for  the  defence  of  a  faith  which  was  not  menaced. 
Committees  were  appointed  to  inflame  faction  and  serve 
as  the  rallying  points  of  bigotry.  Sectarian  books  and 
pamphlets  of  the  most  exaggerated  and  alarming  kind 
were  sown  broadcast  all  over  the  countrv.  The  result  of 
this  kind  of  agitation  showed  itself  in  a  religious  persecu- 
tion, which  gradually  developed  into  a  religious  war.  The 
unfortunate  Catholic  residents  in  Edinburgh,  in  Glasgow, 
and  in  other  great  Scottish  towns  found  themselves  sud- 
denly the  victims  of  savage  violence  at  the  hands  of  mobs 
incited  by  the  inflammatory  utterances  and  the  inflam- 
matory propaganda  of  the  Protestant  committees.  In  the 
face  of  the  disorder  which  a  suggestion  of  mercy  aroused 
in  Scotland,  the  Government  seemed  to  take  fright,  and 
to  abandon  all  thought  of  extending  the  clemencv  of  the 
Relief  Bill  to  Scotland. 

But  the  Scottish  agitation  against  the  Catholics  soon 
spread  across  the  Border,  soon  directed  itself,  not  against 
the  imaginary  Bill  which  it  might  be  the  intention  of  the 
Government  to  pass,  but  against  the  actual  Bill  which  the 


Government  had  passed  for  the  benefit  of  English  Catho- 
lics. The  bigoted  bodies,  societies,  and  conmiittees  iu  Scot- 
land soon  found  their  parallels  in  England.  The  Eng- 
lish J'rotestant  Association  rose  into  being  like  some  sud- 
den evocation  of  a  wizard,  and  chose  for  its  head  and  leader 
the  num  who  had  made  himself  conspicuous  as  the  head 
and  leader  of  the  movement  in  Scotland — Lord  George 

i^ord  George  Gordon  lives  forever,  a  familiar  figure  in 
the  minds  of  the  English-speaking  race,  thanks  to  the  pict- 
ure drawn  by  Charles  Dickens.  Englishmen  know,  as 
they  know  the  face  of  a  friend,  the  ominous  figure  "  about 
the  middle  height,  of  a  slender  make  and  sallow  com- 
plexion, with  an  aquiline  nose,  and  long  hair  of  a  reddish 
brown,  combed  perfectly  straight  and  smooth  about  his 
ears  and  slightly  powdered,  but  without  the  faintest  ves- 
tige of  a  curl."  It  is  a  living  portrait  of  that  solemn  gen- 
tleman in  the  suit  of  soberest  black,  with  those  bright  large 
eyes  in  which  insanity  burned,  "  eyes  which  betrayed  a 
restlessness  of  thought  and  purpose,  singularly  at  variance 
with  the  studied  composure  and  sobriety  of  his  mien,  and 
with  his  quaint  and  sad  apparel."  It  fits  well  with  all  that 
we  know  of  Lord  George  Gordon  to  learn  that  there  was 
nothing  fierce  or  cruel  in  his  face,  whose  mildness  and 
wliose  melancholy  were  chiefly  varied  by  a  haunting  air 
of  "  indefinable  uneasiness,  which  infected  those  who 
looked  upon  him  and  filled  them  with  a  kind  of  pity  for 
the  man:  though  why  it  did  so  they  would  have  had  some 
trouble  to  explain."  Such  was  the  strange  fanatic  whose 
name  was  destined  to  be  blown  for  a  season  throughout 
England,  who  was  fated  to  stand  for  a  moment  visible  in 
the  eyes  of  all  men,  the  idol  of  intolerance,  the  apostle  of 
violence,  of  murder,  and  of  fire,  and  then  to  fall  most 
pitiably,  most  pitifully  into  the  dust. 

Lord  George  Gordon  was  still  a  young  man  when  he 
became  leader  of  the  anti-Catholic  agitation.  He  would 
seem  in  our  days  a  very  young  man,  for,  as  he  was  born 
in  1750,  he  was  only  thirty  when  the  agitation  reached  its 
height.    But  a  man  of  thirty  was  counted  older  than  he 

1750-80.  LORD  GEORGE  GORDON.  193 

would  not  be  reckoned,  in  an  epoch  when  it  was  possible 
for  a  young  man  just  come  of  age  to  lead  the  House  of 
Commons.  Lord  George  Gordon  had  led  a  somewhat 
varied  life.  He  had  been  in  the  navy,  and  had  left  the 
service  from  pique,  while  the  American  war  was  still  in 
Its  earliest  stages,  in  consequence  of  a  quarrel  with  Lord 
Sandwich  concerning  promotion.  The  restless  energy 
which  he  could  no  longer  dedicate  to  active  service  he  re- 
solved most  unhappily  to  devote  to  political  life.  He  en- 
tered Parliament  as  the  representative  of  the  borough  of 
Ludgershall,  and  soon  earned  for  himself  a  considerable 
notoriety  in  Westminster.  He  had  very  fierce  opinions; 
he  attacked  everybody  and  everything;  his  vehemence  and 
vituperation  were  seasoned  with  a  kind  of  wit,  and  he  made 
himself,  if  not  a  power,  at  least  an  important  factor  in  the 
House  of  Commons.  Indeed,  it  passed  into  a  kind  of 
proverb  at  St.  Stephen's  that  there  were  three  parties  in  the 
State — the  Ministr}^,  the  Opposition,  and  Lord  George 
Gordon.  Parliament  had  seen  before,  and  has  seen  since, 
many  a  politician  fighting  thus  like  Hal  o'  the  W}Tid  for 
his  own  hand,  but  no  one  so  influential  for  a  season  or  so 
pernicious  in  his  influence  as  Lord  George  Gordon. 

It  seems  quite  clear  to  those  who  review  so  strange  a 
career  at  this  distance  of  time  that  Lord  George  Gordon 
was  of  deranged  intellect.  It  does  not  need  the  alleged 
contrast  between  his  professions  and  his  practice  to  en- 
force this  conclusion.  jMany  men  have  affected  the  re- 
ligious habit  and  the  religious  bearing  while  their  lives 
were  privately  profligate  without  deserving  to  be  called 
insane  except  in  the  sense  in  which  any  criminal  excess 
may  be  regarded  pathologically  as  a  proof  of  madness. 
Even  if  it  were  true  that  the  long-haired  and  black-hab- 
ited George  Gordon  were  the  debauched  profligate  that 
Hannah  More  and  Horace  Walpole  maintained  him  to 
be,  he  might  find  fellow-sinners  of  unquestioned  sanity. 
But  the  conduct  of  his  public  life  goes  to  prove  that  his 
wits  were  diseased.  His  behavior  in  the  House,  when  it 
was    not    intolerably    tedious,    was    characterized    by    a 

grotesque  buffoonery  which  men  looked  upon  as  laughable 
VOL.  m. — 7 


or  pitiable  according  to  their  tempers,  but  which  they  had 
not  yet  learned  to  look  upon  as  dangerous.  When  he  de- 
nounced the  King  as  a  Papist,  when  he  declared  that  the 
time  would  come  when  George  Gordon  would  be  able  to 
dictate  to  the  Crown  and  Parliament,  when  he  occasionally 
interrupted  his  wild  utterances  to  break  into  Hoods  of  tears, 
men  sneered  or  yawned  or  laughed.  They  were  soon  to 
learn  that  the  man  was  something  more  than  divertingly 

In  the  excitement  that  followed  on  the  passing  of  the 
relief  measure  Lord  George  Gordon  found  his  opportunity 
for  being  actively  noxious.  A  gloomy  fanaticism  in  Scot- 
land took  fire  at  the  fear  lest  kindred  relief  should  be  ex- 
tended to  the  North  Briton,  and,  as  we  have  said,  displayed 
itself  in  savage  speech  and  savage  deed.  In  the  press  and 
from  the  pulpit  denunciations  of  the  Catholics  streamed. 
The  Synod  of  Glasgow  solemnly  resolved  that  it  would  op- 
pose any  Bill  brought  into  Parliament  in  favor  of  Scottish 
Catholics.  In  Edinburah  and  in  Glasgow  houses  were 
wrecked  and  lives  menaced.  In  Glasgow  a  worthy  potter, 
^Ir.  Bagnal,  who  had  brought  from  Staffordshire  its  fa- 
mous art,  had  his  property  wholly  destroyed.  In  Edin- 
burgh the  house  of  a  Catholic  priest  was  wrecked  in  obe- 
dience to  a  brutal  handbill  which  called  upon  its  readers  to 
*'  take  it  as  a  warning  to  meet  at  Leith  Wynd,  on  Wednes- 
day next,  in  the  evening,  to  pull  down  that  pillar  of 
popery  lately  erected  there."  The  "  pillar  of  popery  "  was 
the  dwelling  occupied  by  the  priest,  which  was  duly 
wrecked  in  obedience  to  the  bidding  of  the  nameless 
"  Protestant "  who  signed  the  manifesto.  It  is  curious  to 
note  a  postscriptum  to  the  handbill,  which  ran  thus: 
*'  Please  to  read  this  carefully,  keep  it  clean,  and  drop  it 
somewhere  else.  For  Kino;  and  countrv. — Unity."  The 
means  which  were  adopted  to  spread  fanaticism  in  Scot- 
land were  carefully  followed  when  the  time  came  for  car- 
rying the  agitation  into  England. 

It  was  indeed  not  necessary  to  be  a  Catholic  to  call  down 
the  fury  of  fanatical  persecution.  To  have  expressed  any 
sympathy  for  Catholicism,  to  have  taken  part  in  any  way. 


uo  matter  how  indirect,  in  the  advocacy  of  the  relief 
measure,  was  enough  to  mark  men  out  for  vengeance.  Dr. 
Robertson,  the  historian,  was  threatened  because  he  advo- 
cated tolerance  in  religious  matters.  A  lawyer  named 
Crosbie  was  denounced  merely  because  he  had  in  the  way 
of  his  regular  business  drawn  up  the  Bill  intended  for 
Parliament.  It  was  inevitable  that  the  action  of  intol- 
erance in  Scotland  should  come  before  the  notice  of  Par- 
liament. Wilkes,  always  ostentatious  in  the  cause  of  lib- 
erty, called  upon  Dundas  to  bring  in  his  relief  measure 
for  Scotland.  When  Dundas  declared  that  it  was  better 
to  delay  the  m.easure  until  cooler  judgment  might  prevail, 
Wilkes  denounced  him  for  allowing  Parliament  to  truckle 
to  riot,  and  the  denunciation  found  support  in  the  actions 
of  Burke  and  of  Fox.  Lord  George  Gordon  had  found  his 
opportunity.  He  assailed  Fox;  he  assailed  Burke,  He 
declared  that  every  non-Catholic  in  Scotland  was  ready 
to  rise  in  arms  against  Catholic  relief,  and  that  the  rebels 
had  chosen  him  for  their  leader.  He  raged  and  vapored 
and  threatened  on  the  floor  of  the  House.  But  he  did 
more  than  rage  and  vapor  and  threaten.  Whether  of  his 
own  motion,  or  prompted  by  others,  he  formed  a  "  Protes- 
tant Association  "  in  England.  Of  this,  as  of  the  similar 
Scottish  Association,  he  was  declared  the  head,  and  this 
accumulation  of  honors  wholly  overthrew  his  intelligence. 
An  amiable  writer  has  declared  that  "  it  would  be  much 
beneath  the  dignity  of  history  to  record  the  excesses  of  so 
coarse  a  fanatic  but  for  the  fatal  consequences  with  which 
they  were  attended."  The  amiable  defender  of  a  detest- 
able phrase  does  not  understand  that  it  was  the  excesses 
of  the  fanatic  that  led  to  the  fatal  consequences,  and  that 
Lord  George  Gordon,  as  the  ostensible  head  and  conspicu- 
ous cause  of  one  of  the  gravest  events  of  the  history  of 
England  in  the  eighteenth  century,  is  in  no  sense  beneath 
the  "  dignity  of  history."  The  business  of  history  is  with 
him  and  with  such  as  he,  as  well  as  with  the  statelier, 
austerer  figures  who  sanely  shape  the  destinies  of  the  State. 
There  was  plenty  of  fanaticism  abroad  in  England ;  it  was 
reserved  for  Lord  George  Gordon  to  bring  it  together  into 

196  A    IllSTORV   OF  THE   FOUR  GEOR(;KS.  ch.  lv. 

a  single  body,  to  organize  it,  and  to  employ  its  force  with 
a  terrible  if  temporary  success.  He  issued  an  insane  procla- 
nuition  calling  upon  men  to  unite  against  Catholicism;  he 
lield  a  great  meeting  of  the  Protestant  Association  at 
(.^oaehmakers'  Hall,  at  which  with  a  kind  of  Bedlamite 
brilliancy  he  raved  against  Catholicism  and  lashed  the 
])assions  of  his  hearers  to  delirium.  It  was  resolved  to 
liold  a  huge  meeting  of  the  Protestant  Association  in  St. 
(George's  Fields  on  June  2.  At  its  head  Lord  George  Gor- 
don was  to  proceed  to  the  House  of  Commons  and  deliver 
the  petition  against  Catholic  relief.  All  stanch  Protestants 
were  to  wear  blue  cockades  in  their  hats  to  mark  out  the 
faithful  from  the  unfaithful. 

On  June  2,  1780,  the  meeting  was  held.  Lord  George 
Gordon  had  announced  in  his  speech  at  the  Coachmakers' 
Hall  that  he  would  not  deliver  the  petition  if  the  meeting 
were  less  than  twenty  thousand  strong.  The  number  of 
Lord  George's  limit  was  enormously  exceeded.  It  is  said 
that  at  least  sixty  thousand  persons  were  present  in  St. 
George's  Fields  on  the  appointed  day,  and  some  chroni- 
clers compute  the  number  at  nearer  one  hundred  thousand 
than  sixty  thousand.  It  is  curious  to  note  in  passing  that 
a  Roman  Catholic  cathedral  stands  now  on  the  very  site 
where  this  meeting  was  held.  After  the  meeting  had 
assembled  it  started  to  march  six  abreast  to  Westminster. 
The  hand  of  the  great  romancer  who  has  made  George 
Gordon  live  has  renewed  that  memorable  day,  with  its 
noise,  its  tumult,  its  tossing  banners,  its  shouted  party 
cries,  its  chanted  hymns,  its  military  evolutions,  its  insane 
enthusiasms,  its  dangerous  latent  passions.  Gibbon,  who 
M^as  then  a  member  of  the  House  of  Commons,  declared 
that  the  assemblage  seemed  to  him  as  if  forty  thousand 
Puritans  of  the  days  of  Cromwell  had  started  from  their 
graves.  The  forty  thousand  Puritans  were  escorted  by  and 
incorporated  with  a  still  greater  body  of  all  the  ruffianism 
and  scoundrelism  that  a  great  city  can  contribute  to  any 
scene  of  popular  agitation.  What  fanaticism  inspired 
rowdyism  was  more  than  ready  to  profit  by.  The  march 
to  AVestminster  and  the  arrival  at  Westminster  form  one  of 

1780.  THE   LORD   GEORGE  GORDON  RIOTS.  197 

the  wildest  episodes  in  the  history  of  London.  By  three 
different  routes  the  blue-cockaded  petitioners  proceeded 
to  Westminster,  and  rallied  in  the  large  open  spaces  then 
existing  in  front  of  the  Houses  of  Parliament.  The  innate 
lawlessness  of  the  assemblage  soon  manifested  itself  in  a 
series  of  attacks  upon  the  members  of  both  Houses  who 
were  endeavoring  to  make  their  way  through  the  press  to 
their  respective  Chambers.  It  is  one  more  example  of  the 
eternal  irony  of  history  that,  while  the  mob  was  buffeting 
members  of  the  Lower  House,  and  doing  its  best  to  murder 
members  of  the  Upper  House,  while  a  merciless  intolerance 
was  rapidly  degenerating  into  a  merciless  disorder,  the 
Duke  of  Kichmond  was  wholly  absorbed  in  a  speech  in 
favor  of  annual  parliaments  and  universal  suffrage.  Mem- 
ber after  member  of  the  House  of  Lords  reeled  into  the 
Painted  Chamber,  dishevelled,  bleeding,  with  pale  face  and 
torn  garments,  to  protest  against  the  violence  of  the  mob 
and  the  insult  to  Parliamentary  authority.  Ashburnham, 
Townshend  and  Willoughby,  Stormont  and  Bathurst, 
Mansfield,  Mountfort,  and  Boston,  one  after  another  came 
in,  dismaved  victims  of  and  witnesses  to  the  violence  that 
reigned  outside.  Bishop  after  bishop  entered  to  complain 
of  brutal  ill-treatment.  But  the  Duke  of  Richmond  was 
so  wrapped  up  in  his  own  speech  and  its  importance  that 
he  could  only  protest  against  anything  which  interrupted 
its  flow.  It  is  agreeable  to  find  that  imbecility  and  terror 
did  not  rule  unchallenged  over  the  L^pper  House  that  day. 
One  account,  that  of  Walpole,  who  is  always  malicious, 
represents  Lord  ]\Iansfield  as  sitting  upon  the  woolsack 
trembling  like  an  aspen.  Another,  more  creditable  and 
more  credible,  declares  that  Lord  Mansfield  showed 
throughout  the  utmost  composure  and  presence  of  mind. 
About  the  gallantry  of  Lord  Townshend  there  can  be  no 
doubt.  When  he  heard  that  Lord  Boston  was  in  the  hands 
of  the  mob,  he  turned  to  the  younger  peers  about  him,  re- 
minded them  of  their  youth,  and  the  fact  that  they  wore 
swords,  and  called  upon  them  to  draw  with  him  and  fight 
their  way  to  the  rescue  of  their  brother  peer.  It  was  at 
least  a  gallant  if  a  hopeless  suggestion.     What  could  the 


rapiers  of  a  score  of  gentlemen  avail  against  the  thousands 
who  seethed  and  raved  outside  Westminster  Hall?  The 
solemn  Duke  of  Richmond  interfered.  If  the  Lords  went 
forth  to  face  the  mob  he  urged  that  they  should  go  as  a 
House  and  carrying  the  Mace  before  them.  On  this  a 
debate  sprang  up,  while  the  storm  still  raged  outside.  A 
Middlesex  magistrate,  called  to  the  bar  in  haste,  declared 
that  he  could  onlv  offer  six  constables  to  meet  the  diffi- 
culty.  A  proposal  to  call  upon  the  military  power  was 
fiercely  opposed  by  Lord  Sholburne.  Under  such  condi- 
tions the  Peers  did  nothing,  and  in  the  end  retired,  leav- 
ing Lord  Mansfield  alone  in  his  glory. 

If  things  went  badly  in  the  Upper  House,  they  went 
still  worse  in  the  Lower  House.  While  members  trying 
to  gain  entrance  suffered  almost  as  much  ill-treatment  as 
the  Peers  at  the  hands  of  the  mob,  the  Commons'  House 
was  much  more  closely  leaguered  than  the  House  of  Lords. 
For  it  was  in  the  Commons'  House  that  the  petition  was 
to  be  presented.  It  was  in  the  Commons'  House  that  Lord 
George  Gordon,  pale,  lank-haired,  black-habited,  with  the 
blue  cockade  in  his  hat,  was  calling  upon  the  Commons  to 
receive  immediately  the  monstrous  petition.  Every  en- 
trance to  the  House  was  choked  with  excited  humanity. 
The  Lobby  itself  was  overflowing  with  riotous  fanatics, 
who  thundered  at  intervals  upon  the  closed  doors  of  the 
Chamber  with  their  bludgeons.  Shrieks  of  "  No  Popery," 
and  huzzas  for  Lord  George  Gordon  filled  the  place  with 
a  hideous  clamor  strangely  contrasting  with  the  decorum 
that  habitually  reigned  there. 

Lord  George  Gordon  did  not  cut  a  very  heroic  figure  on 
that  memorable  day  at  Westminster.  He  was  perpetually 
rushing  from  his  place  to  the  door  of  the  House  to  repeat 
to  rowdyism  in  the  Lobby  what  different  members  had 
said  in  the  debates.  At  one  time  he  denounced  the  Speaker 
of  the  House;  at  another,  Mr.  Rous;  at  another,  Lord 
North.  Occasionally  he  praised  a  speaker,  and  his  praise 
was  more  ludicrous  than  his  condemnation.  At  one  mo- 
ment, when  Lord  George  was  at  the  door  communicating 
with  the  crowd,  Sir  Michael  le  Fleming  came  up  to  him 


and  tried  to  induce  him  to  return  to  his  seat.  Lord  George 
immediately  began  caressing  Sir  Michael  le  Fleming  in  a 
childish,  almost  in  an  imbecile  way,  patting  and  stroking 
him  upon  the  shoulders,  and  expressing  inarticulately  a 
pitiful  kind  of  joy.  He  introduced  Sir  Michael  le  Flem- 
ing to  the  mob  as  a  man  who  had  just  been  speaking  for 
them.  A  little  later  Lord  George  again  addressed  the 
crowd,  this  time  from  the  little  gallery,  when  he  stimu- 
lated their  passions  by  appeal  to  the  example  of  the 
Scotch,  who  had  found  no  redress  till  they  had  pulled 
down  the  IMass-houses.  Probably  no  stranger  scene  has  ever 
been  witnessed  at  Westminster  than  this  of  the  pale-faced 
fanatic  and  madman,  with  the  blue  cockade  in  his  hat, 
running  backward  and  forward  from  the  Chamber  to 
the  door  of  the  House,  delivering  inflammatory  addresses 
to  the  mob  that  raged  in  the  Lobby,  and  stimulating  them 
by  his  wild  harangues  to  persevere  in  their  conduct,  and 
to  terrify  the  King  and  the  Parliament  into  obedience  to 
their  wishes.  The  names  of  the  members  who  spoke 
against  the  petition  he  communicated  to  the  shrieking 
throng;  their  utterances  he  falsely  reported. 

It  is  deeply  interesting  to  note  a  fact  which  has 
escaped  the  notice  of  not  merely  the  most  conspicuous  his- 
torians of  the  time,  but  also  the  keen  eye  of  the  great 
novelist  who  studied  the  event.  It  is  recorded  in  the 
"Annual  Eegister'^  for  the  year  1780  that  among  the 
members  whose  names  Lord  George  Gordon  denounced  to 
the  raving  crowd  in  the  Lobby  the  name  of  Mr.  Burke 
had  especial  prominence.  It  is  curious  to  picture  the  im- 
becile fanatic  standing  upon  the  steps  leading  to  the 
Strangers'  Gallery  and  invoking  the  fury  of  the  fanatic 
and  the  lawless  against  the  greatest  public  man  of  his  age. 

For  a  while  Lord  George  Gordon  was  suffered  to  rant 
unimpeded.  At  last  Colonel  Holroyd,  seizing  hold  of 
him,  threatened  to  move  for  his  immediate  committal  to 
Newgate,  while  Colonel  Gordon,  with  a  blunter  and  yet 
more  efficacious  eloquence,  declared  that  if  any  of  the 
rioters  attempted  to  force  his  way  past  the  door  of  the 
House,  he,  Colonel  Gordon,  would  run  his  sword  throudi 


the  body,  not  of  the  invader,  but  of  Lord  George  Gordon. 
As  Colonel  Gordon  was  a  kinsman  of  Lord  George's,  it 
may  be  that  Lord  George  knew  sufficient  of  his  temper 
to  believe  his  word  and  was  sufficiently  sane  to  accept  his 
warning.  At  least  there  came  a  pause  in  his  inflammatory 
phrases,  and  shortly  afterward  the  news  of  the  arrival  of 
a  party  of  Horse  and  Foot  Guards  did  what  no  persua- 
sions or  entreaties  could  effect.  It  cleared  the  Lobby  and 
the  approaches  to  the  House.  Under  conditions  of  what 
might  be  called  comparative  quiet  the  division  on  Lord 
George  Gordon's  proposal  for  the  immediate  reception  of 
the  petition  was  taken,  and  only  found  six  supporters 
against  a  majority  of  one  hundred  and  ninety-two. 

But  mischief  was  afoot  and  began  to  work.  The  mob 
that  had  been  dispersed  from  Westminster  broke  up  into 
different  parties  and  proceeded  to  expend  its  fury  in  the 
destruction  of  buildings.  The  hustling  of  peers,  the  bon- 
neting of  bishops,  the  insulting  of  members  of  Parliament, 
all  made  rare  sport;  but  the  demolition  of  Catholic  places 
of  worship  promised  a  better,  and  suggested  exquisite  pos- 
sibilities of  further  depredation.  The  Catholic  chapels 
in.  Duke  Street,  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields,  and  in  Warwick 
Street,  Golden  Square — the  one  belonging  to  the  Sar- 
dinian, the  other  to  the  Bavarian  Minister — were  attacked, 
plundered,  set  fire  to,  and  almost  entirely  destroyed.  The 
military  were  sent  for ;  they  arrived  too  late  to  prevent  the 
arson,  but  thirteen  of  the  malefactors  were  seized  and  com- 
mitted to  Newgate,  and  for  the  night  the  mob  Avas  dis- 
persed. It  was  not  a  bad  day's  work  for  the  rioters.  Par- 
liament had  been  insulted,  the  Government  and  the  very 
Throne  menaced.  In  two  parts  of  the  town  Catholic  build- 
ings, under  the  protection  of  foreign  and  friendly  Powers, 
stood  stripped  and  blackened  piles.  Eiot  had  faced  the 
bayonets  of  authority — had  for  a  moment  seemed  ready 
to  defy  them.  Yet  at  first  nobody  seems  to  have  taken  the 
matter  seriously  or  gauged  its  grave  significance.  Neither 
the  Catholics,  against  whom  the  agitation  was  levelled, 
nor  the  peers  and  prelates  and  members  of  Parliament  who 
had  been  so  harshlv  treated  seemed  to  understand  the  stern- 

1780.  SPREAD   OF  THE  GORDON  RIOTS.  201 

ness  of  the  situation.  There  was  a  sense  of  confidence  in 
law  and  order,  a  feeling  of  security  in  good  administra- 
tion, which  lulled  men  into  a  false  confidence. 

This  false  confidence  was  increased  by  the  quiet. which 
reigned  over  Saturday,  June  3.  Parliament  met  undis- 
turbed. An  address  of  Lord  Bathurst's,  calling  for  a  prose- 
cution of  "  the  authors,  abettors,  and  instruments  of  yes- 
terday's outrages,"  was  carried  after  a  rambling  and  pur- 
poseless debate,  and  the  House  of  Lords  adjourned  till  the 
6th,  apparently  convinced  that  there  was  no  further  cause 
for  alarm.  This  public  composure  was  rudely  shaken  on 
the  following  day,  Sunday,  June  4.  The  rioters  reassem- 
bled at  Moorfields.  Once  again  the  buildings  belonging 
to  Catholics  were  ransacked  and  demolished;  once  again 
incendiary  fires  blazed,  and  processions  of  savage  figures 
decked  in  the  spoils  of  Catholic  ceremonial  carried  terror 
before  them.  The  Lord  Mayor,  Kennett,  proved  to  be  a 
weak  man  wholly  unequal  to  the  peril  he  was  suddenly 
called  upon  to  face.  There  were  soldiers  at  hand,  but  they 
were  not  made  use  of.  One  act  of  resolution  might  have 
stayed  the  disorder  at  the  first,  but  no  man  was  found 
resolute  enough  to  perform  the  act;  and  rapine,  raging 
unchecked,  became  more  audacious  and  more  dangerous. 

On  the  Monday,  though  the  trouble  grew  graver,  noth- 
ing was  done  to  meet  it  beyond  the  issuing  of  a  proclama- 
tion offering  a  reward  of  five  hundred  pounds  for  the  dis- 
covery of  the  persons  concerned  in  the  destruction  of  the 
chapels  of  the  Bavarian  and  Sardinian  Ambassadors.  The 
mob  gathered  again,  bolder  for  the  impunity  with  which 
it  had  so  far  acted.  Large  bodies  of  men  marched  to  Lord 
George  Gordon's  house  in  Welbeck  Street  and  paraded 
there,  displaying  the  trophies  stripped  from  the  destroyed 
chapels  in  Moorfields.  Others  began  work  of  fresh  de- 
struction in  Wapping  and  in  Smithfield.  Sir  George 
Savile's  house  in  Leicester  Fields,  and  the  houses  of  Mr. 
Eainsforth  of  Clare  Market,  and  Mr.  Maberly  of  Little 
Queen  Street,  respectable  tradesmen  who  had  been  active 
in  arresting  rioters  on  the  Fridaj^  night,  were  sacked  and 
their  furniture  burned  in  huge  bonfires  in  the  streets.   The 

202  A   HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ca.  lv. 

Guards  who  had  the  task  of  escorting  the  prisoners  taken 
on  Friday  to  Xewgate  were  pelted. 

On  the  Tuesday  authority  seemed  to  have  wakened  up 
to  a  vague  sense  that  the  situation  was  somewhat  serious. 
Parliament  reassembled  to  find  itself  again  surrounded 
and  menaced  by  a  mob,  which  wounded  Lord  Sandwich 
and  destroyed  his  carriage.  Lord  George  Gordon  attended 
the  House,  but  even  his  madness  appeared  to  have  taken 
alarm,  for  he  had  caused  a  proclamation  to  be  issued  in 
the  name  of  the  Protestant  Association  disavowing  the 
riots.  As  he  sat  in  his  place,  with  the  blue  cockade  in  his 
hat,  Colonel  Herbert,  who  was  afterwards  Lord  Carnarvon, 
called  to  him  from  across  the  House,  telling  him  to  take 
oft'  the  badge  or  he  would  cross  the  floor  and  do  it  himself. 
Lord  George's  vehemence  did  not  stand  him  in  good  stead 
where  he  himself  was  menaced.  He  had  no  following  in 
the  House.  Colonel  Herbert  was  a  man  of  the  sword  and 
a  man  of  his  word.  Lord  George  Gordon  took  the  cockade 
from  his  hat  and  put  it  in  his  pocket.  If  authority  had 
acted  with  the  firmness  of  Colonel  Gordon  on  the  Friday 
and  of  Colonel  Herbert  on  the  Tuesday,  the  tumult  might 
have  been  as  easily  cowed  as  its  leader.  But  still  nothing 
was  done.  The  House  of  Commons  made  a  half-hearted 
promise  that  when  the  tumult  subsided  the  Protestant 
petition  would  be  taken  into  consideration,  and  a  sugges- 
tion that  Lord  George  ought  to  be  expelled  was  unfavor- 
ably received. 

From  that  moment,  and  for  two  long  and  terrible  days, 
riot  ruled  in  London.  In  all  directions  the  evening  sky 
was  red  with  flames  of  burning  buildings;  in  all  direc- 
tions organized  bands  of  men,  maddened  with  drink,  car- 
ried terror  and  destruction.  The  Tuesday  evening  was 
signalized  by  the  most  extraordinary  and  most  daring  deed 
that  the  insurgents  had  yet  done.  Some  of  the  men  ar- 
rested on  the  Friday  had  been  committed  to  Newgate 
Prison.  To  ISTcAVgate  Prison  a  vast  body  of  men  marched, 
and  called  upon  Mr.  Akerman,  the  keeper,  to  give  up  his 
keys  and  surrender  his  prisoners.  His  firm  refusal  con- 
verted the  mob  into  a  besieging  army. 


Two  men  of  genius  have  contributed  to  our  knowledge 
of  the  siege  of  Xewgate.  Crabbe,  the  poet,  was  at  West- 
minster on  the  Tuesday,  and  after  seeing  all  the  disturb- 
ance there  he  made  his  way  with  the  current  of  destruc- 
tion towards  Xewgate,  and  witnessed  the  astonishing  capt- 
ure of  a  massive  prison  by  a  body  of  men,  imarmed  save 
with  such  rude  weapons  of  attack  as  could  be  hurriedly 
caught  up.  The  prison  was  so  strong  that,  had  a  dozen 
men  resisted,  it  would  have  been  almost  impossible  to  take 
it  without  artillery.  But  there  was  nobody  to  resist.  Mr. 
Akerman,  the  keeper,  acted  with  great  courage,  and  did 
his  duty  loyally,  but  he  could  not  hold  the  place  alone. 
Crowbars,  pickaxes,  and  fire  forced  an  entrance  into  the 
jjrison.  "  Xot  Orpheus  himself,"  wrote  Crabbe,  "  had 
more  courage  or  better  luck  "  than  the  desperate  assailants 
of  the  prison.  They  broke  into  the  blazing  prison,  they 
rescued  their  comrades,  they  set  all  the  other  prisoners 
free.  Into  the  street,  where  the  summer  evening  was  as 
bright  as  noonday  with  the  blazing  building,  the  prisoners 
were  borne  in  triumph.  Some  of  them  had  been  con- 
demned to  death,  and  never  were  men  more  bewildered 
than  by  this  strange  reprieve.  The  next  day  Dr.  Johnson 
walked,  in  company  with  Dr.  Scott,  to  look  at  the  place, 
and  found  the  prison  in  ruins,  with  the  fire  yet  glowing. 
The  stout-hearted  Doctor  was  loud  in  his  scorn  of  "  the 
cowardice  of  a  commercial  place,"  where  such  deeds  could 
be  done  without  hinderance. 

While  one  desperate  gang  was  busy  with  the  destruction 
of  N"ewgate,  other  gangs,  no  less  desperate,  were  busy  with 
destructive  work  elsewhere.  The  new  prison  in  Clerken- 
well  was  broken  open  by  one  crowd,  and  its  prisoners  set 
free.  Another  assailed  Sir  John  Fielding's  house,  and 
burned  its  furniture  in  the  streets.  A  third  attacked  the 
house  of  Lord  Mansfield  in  Bloomsbury  Square.  This  last 
enterprise  was  one  of  the  most  remarkable  and  infamous  of 
the  bad  business.  Lord  Mansfield  and  his  wife  had  barely 
time  to  escape  from  the  house  by  a  back  way  before  the 
mob  were  upon  it.  The  now  familiar  scenes  of  savage 
violence    followed.      The    doors    were    broken    open,    the 

204  A    III>;T0RY    or   T[IE   FOUR   GEORGES. 

throng  poured  in,  and  in  a  compcaratively  short  time  the 
stately  mansion  was  a  ruin.  T.ord  Mansfield's  law  library, 
one  of  the  finest  in  the  kingdom,  and  all  the  judicial 
nuinuscripts  made  by  him  during  his  long  career,  were 
destroyed.  A  small  detachment  of  soldiers  came  upon  the 
scene  too  late  to  prevent  the  destruction  of  the  house  or 
to  intimidate  the  mob ;  although,  according  to  one  account, 
the  Riot  Act  was  read  and  a  couple  of  volleys  fired,  with 
the  result  that  several  of  the  rioters  were  shot  and  wound- 
ed. It  is  curious  to  find  that  the  reports  of  the  intended 
purposes  of  the  wreckers  drew  persons  of  quality  and 
curiosity  to  Bloomsbury  Square  in  their  coaches  as  to  a 
popular  performance,  and  that  the  destruction  of  Lord 
Mansfield's  house  proved  more  attractive  than  the  produc- 
tion of  a  new  play. 

The  Wednesday  was  no  less  terrible  than  the  Tuesday. 
The  rioters  seemed  to  think  that,  like  so  many  Mortimers, 
they  were  now  Lords  of  London.  They  sent  messages  to 
the  keepers  of  the  public  prisons  of  the  King's  Bench,  the 
Fleet,  and  to  prominent  Catholic  houses,  informing  them 
of  the  precise  time  when  they  would  be  attacked  and  de- 
stroyed. By  this  time  peaceable  London  was  in  a  state  of 
panic.  All  shops  were  shut.  From  most  windows  blue 
banners  were  thrust  out  to  show  the  sympathy  of  the  oc- 
cupants with  the  agitation,  and  the  words  "  Xo  Popery  " 
were  scrawled  in  chalk  across  the  doors  and  windows  of 
every  householder  who  wished  to  protect  himself  against 
the  fanaticism  of  the  mob.  At  least  one  enterprising  in- 
dividual got  from  Lord  George  Gordon  his  signature  to 
a  paper  bidding  all  true  friends  to  Protestants  to  do  no 
injury  to  the  property  of  any  true  Protestant,  "  as  I  am 
well  assured  the  proprietor  of  this  house  is  a  stanch  and 
worthy  friend  to  the  cause."  But  there  were  plenty  of 
houses  where  neither  fear  nor  fanaticism  displayed  blue 
banner  or  chalked  scrawl,  houses  whose  owners  boasted  no 
safeguard  signed  by  Lord  George  Gordon,  and  with  these 
the  mob  busied  themselves.  The  description  in  the  "  An- 
nual Register  "  is  so  striking  that  it  deserves  to  be  cited ; 
it  is  prol)ably  from  the  pen  of  Edmund  Burke:   "As  soon 

1780.  PUBLIC  ALARM   IN   LONDON.  205 

as  the  day  was  drawing  towards  a  close  one  of  the  most 
dreadful  spectacles  this  country  ever  beheld  was  ex- 
hibited. Let  those  who  Avere  not  spectators  of  it  judge 
what  the  inhabitants  felt  when  they  beheld  at  the  same 
time  the  flames  ascending  and  rolling  in  clouds  from 
the  King's  Bench  and  Fleet  Prisons,  from  New  Bridewell, 
from  the  toll-gates  on  Blackfriars  Bridge,  from  houses  in 
every  quarter  of  the  town,  and  particularly  from  the  bot- 
tom and  middle  of  Holborn,  where  the  conflagration  was 
horrible  beyond  description.  .  .  .  Six-and-thirty  fires,  all 
blazing  at  one  time,  and  in  different  quarters  of  the  city, 
were  to  be  seen  from  one  spot.  During  the  whole  night, 
men,  women,  and  children  were  running  up  and  down  with 
such  goods  and  effects  as  they  wished  to  preserve.  The 
tremendous  roar  of  the  authors  of  these  terrible  scenes 
was  heard  at  one  instant,  and  at  the  next  the  dreadful  re- 
port of  soldiers'  musquets,  firing  in  platoons  and  from  dif- 
ferent quarters;  in  short,  everything  served  to  impress 
the  mind  with  ideas  of  universal  anarchy  and  approaching 

From  the  closing  words  of  this  account  it  is  plain  that 
at  last  authority  had  begun  to  do  its  duty  and  to  meet 
force  with  force.  Terrorized  London  shook  with  every 
wild  rumor.  Noav  men  said  that  the  mob  had  got  arms, 
and  was  more  than  a  match  for  the  militarv ;  now  that  the 
lions  in  the  Tower  were  to  be  let  loose ;  now  that  the  luna- 
tics from  Bedlam  were  to  be  set  free.  Every  alarming 
rumor  that  fear  could  inspire  and  terror  credit  was  buzzed 
abroad  upon  that  dreadful  day,  when  the  servants  of  the 
Secretary  of  State  wore  blue  cockades  in  their  hats  and 
private  gentlemen  barricaded  their  houses,  armed  their 
people,  and  prepared  to  stand  a  siege.  Horace  Walpole 
found  his  relative,  Lord  Hertford,  engaged  with  his  sons 
in  loading  muskets  to  be  in  readiness  for  the  insurgents. 
Everybody  now  shared  in  the  general  alarm,  but  the  alarm 
affected  different  temperaments  differently.  Some  men 
fied  from  town;  others  loaded  guns  and  sharpened  swords; 
others  put  their  hands  in  their  pockets  and  lounged, 
curious  spectators,  on  the  heels  of  riot,  eager  to  observe 


and  willing  to  record  events  so  singular  and  so  unprece- 

It  is  pleasant  to  be  able  to  chronicle  that  the  King 
showed  an  especial  courage  and  composure  during  that 
wild  week's  work.  George  the  Third  never  lost  head  nor 
heart.  To  do  his  House  justice,  personal  courage  was  one 
of  their  traditions,  but  the  family  quality  never  showed  to 
better  advantage  than  in  this  crisis.  If  indeed  George  the 
Second  were  prepared,  as  has  been  hinted,  to  fly  from  Lon- 
don on  the  approach  of  the  young  Pretender,  George  the 
Third  displayed  no  such  weakness  in  the  face  of  a  more 
immediate  peril.  The  peril  was  more  immediate,  it  was 
also  more  menacing.  No  man  could  safely  say  where 
bad  work  so  begun  might  ultimately  pause.  What  had  been 
an  agitation  in  favor  of  a  petition  might  end  in  revolution 
against  the  Crown.  Outrages  that  had  at  first  been  per- 
petrated with  the  purpose  of  striking  terror  only  were 
changing  their  character.  Schemes  of  plunder  formed  no 
part  of  the  early  plans  of  the  rioters;  now  it  began  to  be 
known  that  the  rioters  had  their  eyes  turned  towards  the 
Bank  of  England  and  were  planning  to  cut  the  pipes  which 
provided  London  with  water.  With  a  little  more  laxity 
on  the  part  of  authority,  and  a  few  more  successes  on  the 
part  of  the  mob,  it  is  possible  that  Lord  George  Gordon 
might  have  found  himself  a  puppet  Caesar  on  the  shields 
of  Protestant  Praetorians. 

That  nothing  even  approaching  to  this  did  happen  was 
largely  due  to  the  courage  and  the  determination  of  the 
Sovereign.  The  Administration  vacillated.  The  Privy 
Council,  facing  an  agitation  of  whose  extent  and  popularity 
it  was  unaware,  feared  to  commit  itself.  George  felt  no 
such  fear.  Where  authority  fell  back  paralj^zed  in  the 
presence  of  a  new,  unknowm,  and  daily  increasing  peril,  he 
came  forward  and  asserted  himself  after  a  fashion  worthy 
of  a  king.  If  the  Privy  Council  would  not  act  with  him, 
then  he  would  act  without  them.  He  would  lead  out  his 
Guards  himself  and  charge  the  rioters  at  their  head.  The 
courage  which  had  shown  itself  at  Dettingen,  the  courage 
which  had  been  displayed  by  generations  of  rough  German 


electors  and  Italian  princes,  showed  itself  gallantly  now 
and  saved  the  city.  The  King  lamented  the  weakness  of 
the  magistrates,  but  at  least  there  was  one,  he  said,  who 
would  do  his  duty,  and  he  touched  his  breast  with  his  hand. 
George  the  Third  is  not  a  heroic  figure  in  history,  but  just 
at  that  moment  he  bore  himself  with  a  royal  honor  which 
ranked  him  with  Leonidas  or  Horatius.  If  there  are  to 
be  kings  at  all,  that  is  how  kings  ought  to  behave.  George 
was  fortunate  in  finding  a  man  to  stand  by  him  and  to  lend 
to  his  soldierly  courage  the  support  of  the  law.  Wedder- 
burn,  the  Attorney-General,  declared,  with  all  the  authority 
of  his  high  position,  that  in  cases  where  the  civil  power  was 
unable  to  restrain  arson  and  outrage,  it  was  the  duty  of  all 
persons,  civil  as  well  as  military,  to  use  all  means  in  their 
power  to  deal  with  the  danger.  The  reading  of  the  Eiot 
Act  was  nugatory  in  such  exceptional  conditions,  and  it 
became  the  duty  of  the  military  to  attack  the  rioters.  Thus 
supported,  the  King  ordered  Wedderburn  to  write  at  once 
to  Lord  Amherst,  the  Commander-in-Chief,  authorizing 
him  to  employ  the  military  without  waiting  for  authority 
from  the  civil  powers.  Wedderburn,  who  in  a  few  days 
was  to  become  Chief  Justice  and  Lord  Loughborough, 
wrote  the  order,  kneeling  upon  one  knee  at  the  council 
table,  and  from  that  moment  the  enemy  was  grappled  with 
in  grim  earnest. 

It  was  high  time.  No  less  than  two  unsuccessful  attacks 
had  been  made  during  that  day  upon  the  Bank  of  England, 
but  precautions  had  been  taken,  and  the  successes  of  New- 
gate were  not  repeated  in  Threadneedle  Street.  The  as- 
sailants were  repulsed  on  each  occasion  b}^  the  military, 
who  occupied  every  avenue  leading  to  the  Bank.  Had  the 
attack  upon  the  Bank  succeeded  it  is  impossible  to  form 
any  estimate  of  what  the  result  might  have  been.  But  it 
failed,  and  with  that  failure  the  whole  hideous  agitation 
failed  as  well.  But  the  crowning  horror  of  the  whole  epi- 
sode was  reserved  for  that  final  day  of  danger.  In  Hol- 
born,  where  riot  raged  fiercest,  stood  the  distilleries  of  Mr. 
Langdale,  a  wealthy  Roman  Catholic.  The  distilleries 
were  attacked  and  fired.    Rivers  of  spirit  ran  in  all  the  con- 


duits  and  blazed  as  they  ran.  Men,  drunk  with  liquor  and 
maddened  with  excitement,  kneeled  to  drink,  and,  drinking, 
fell  and  died  where  they  lay.  By  this  time  the  soldiers 
were  acting  vigorousl}',  driving  the  rabble  before  them, 
shooting  all  who  resisted,  as  some  did  resist  desperately. 
The  fire  that  had  grown  during  the  week  was  quenched  at 
last  in  blood.  On  the  Thursday  morning  London  was 
safe,  comparatively  quiet,  almost  itself  again.  The  shops 
indeed  were  still  closed,  but  mutiny  had  lived  its  life. 
There  was  a  short,  sharp  struggle  during  the  day  in  Fleet 
Street,  between  some  of  the  fanatics  and  the  Guards,  which 
was  stamped  out  by  repeated  bayonet  charges  which  killed 
and  wounded  many.  Everywhere  were  blackened  spaces, 
smouldering  ruins,  stains  of  blood,  and  broken  weapons, 
everywhere  the  signs  of  outrage  and  of  conflict.  But  the 
incendiary  fires  were  quenched  and  with  them  the  fire  of 
insurrection.  The  riots  were  at  an  end.  The  one  wish  of 
every  one  was  to  obliterate  their  memory  as  speedily  as 
might  be.  The  stains  of  blood  were  quickly  removed  from 
the  walls  of  the  Bank  of  England,  from  the  roadway  of 
Blackfriars  Bridge.  The  marks  of  musket  shots  were 
swiftly  effaced  from  the  scarred  buildings. 

It  was  never  fully  known  how  far  the  rioters  themselves 
suffered  in  the  suppression  of  the  disorder.  The  official  re- 
turns give  lists  of  285  direct  deaths,  and  of  173  cases  of 
serious  wounds  in  the  hospitals.  But  this  can  only  repre- 
sent a  small  proportion  of  the  actual  casualties.  Many 
dead,  many  wounded,  must  have  been  carried  away  by 
friends  and  hidden  in  hurried  graves,  or  nursed  in  secret 
to  recovery.  Many,  too,  perished  at  Blackfriars  Bridge,  or 
were  hideously  consumed  in  the  flames  that  rose  from  the 
burning  of  Langdale's  distilleries.  But  if  the  number  of 
those  who  suffered  remains  an  unknown  quantity,  it  is 
not  difficult  to  approximate  to  the  destructive  power  of  the 
disturbances.  The  cost  of  the  whole  bad  business  has  been 
estimated  at  at  least  £180,000.  To  that  amount  an  im- 
becile insanity  had  despoiled  London.  But  the  imbecile 
insanity  had  incurred  a  deeper  debt.  In  the  wild  trials 
that  followed  upon  the  panic  and  the  violence  forty-nine 


men  were  condemned  to  death  for  their  share  in  the  riot, 
and  twenty-nine  of  these  actually  suffered  the  last  penalty 
of  the  law.  It  was  not,  in  the  eyes  of  some,  a  heavy  sacri- 
fice to  pay.  It  did  not  seem  a  heavy  sacrifice  in  the  eyes 
of  John  Wilkes,  who  declared  that  if  he  were  intrusted 
with  sovereign  power  not  a  single  rioter  should  be  left  alive 
to  boast  of,  or  to  plead  for  forgiveness  for,  his  offence.  But 
Lord  George  Gordon  was  not  worth  the  life  of  one  man, 
not  to  speak  of  nine-and-twenty. 

The  folly  of  the  Administration  did  not  end  with  their 
victory.  On  the  9th  they  did  what  they  ought  to  have  done 
Jong  before,  and  arrested  Lord  George  Gordon.  But  even 
this  necessary  belated  act  of  justice  they  performed  in  the 
most  foolish  fashion.  Everything  that  the  pomp  and  cere- 
monial of  arrest  and  arraignment  could  do  was  done  to 
exalt  Lord  George  in  the  eyes  of  the  mob  and  swell  his  im- 
portance. He  was  conveyed  to  the  Tower  of  London. 
Though  the  rising  was  thoroughly  stamped  out,  and  there 
was  practically  no  chance  of  any  attempt  being  made  to 
rescue  the  prisoner,  Lord  George  was  escorted  to  the  Tower 
by  a  numerous  military  force  in  broad  daylight,  with  an 
amount  of  display  that  gave  him  the  dignity  of  a  hero  and 
a  martyr.  To  add  to  the  absurdity  of  the  whole  business, 
the  poor  crazy  gentleman  was  solemnly  tried  for  high 
treason.  Many  months  later,  in  the  early  February  of  the 
next  year,  1781,  when  the  riots  were  a  thing  of  the  past, 
and  their  terrible  memory  had  been  largely  effaced,  George 
Gordon  was  brought  to  the  Bar  of  the  Court  of  King's 
Bench  for  his  trial.  His  wits  had  not  mended  during  his 
confinement.  He  had  been  very  angry  because  he  thou,g;ht 
that  he  was  prevented  from  seeing  his  friends.  His  anger 
deepened  when  he  learned  that  no  friends  had  desired  to 
see  him.  The  fanatic  had  served  his  turn,  and  was  for- 
gotten. He  was  not  of  that  temper  which  makes  men  de- 
voted to  a  leader.  He  was  but  the  foolish  figurehead  of  a 
fanatical  outburst,  and  when  he*  was  set  aside  he  was  for- 
gotten. But  when  he  was  brought  up  for  trial  a  measure 
of  popular  enthusiasm  in  the  man  reasserted  itself.  He 
behaved  very  strangely  at  his  trial,  urging  his  right  to  read 


long  passages  of  Scripture  in  his  defence.  Happily  for 
him,  his  defence  was  managed  by  abler  hands  than  his 
own.  The  genius  of  Erskine,  the  gifts  of  Kenyon,  were  ex- 
pended in  his  behalf.  The  unwisdom  of  the  Government 
in  prosecuting  him  for  high  treason  was  soon  apparent. 
He  was  acquitted,  to  the  general  satisfaction  of  his  sup- 
porters, and  of  many  who  were  not  his  supporters.  If 
public  thanksgiving  were  returned  in  several  churches  for 
his  acquittal,  one  grave  manly  voice  was  uplifted  to  swell 
the  approval.  Dr.  Johnson  declared  that  he  was  far  better 
pleased  that  Lord  George  Gordon  should  escape  punish- 
ment than  that  a  precedent  should  be  established  for  hang- 
ing a  man  for  constructive  treason. 

Thus  the  great  Gordon  riots  flickered  ignominiously  out. 
Lord  George  made  occasional  desperate  efl^orts  to  reassert 
himself,  trying  to  force  himself  upon  the  notice  of  the 
King  at  St.  James's.  In  1787  he  was  found  guilty  of  libels 
upon  the  Queen  of  France  and  the  French  Ambassador. 
He  fled  to  Holland,  where  he  was  arrested  by  the  Dutch 
authorities,  and  shipped  back  to  England.  He  was  com- 
mitted to  Xewgate,  by  curious  chance,  on  the  anniversary 
of  the  day  on  which  it  had  been  burned  by  his  followers. 
In  Newgate  he  lived  for  some  years,  adjuring  Christianity, 
and  declaring  himself  to  be  a  follower  of  the  Jewish  faith. 
In  Newgate  the  fanatic,  renegade,  madman,  died  of  jail 
distemper  on  November  1,  1793.  He  was  only  forty-two 
years  old.  In  his  short,  unhappy  life  he  had  done  a  great 
deal  of  harm,  and,  as  far  as  it  is  possible  to  judge,  no  good 
whatever.  Perhaps  the  example  of  the  Gordon  riots  served 
as  a  precedent  in  another  land.  If  the  news  of  the  fall 
of  the  Bastille  and  the  September  massacres  reached  Lord 
George  Gordon  in  his  prison,  he  may  have  recalled  to  his 
crazed  fancy  the  fall  of  Newgate  and  the  bloody  Wednes- 
day of  the  June  of  1780. 



TWO    NEW    MEN. 

The  year  1780  that  witnessed  the  Gordon  riots  wel- 
comed into  political  life  two  men,  both  of  whom  were 
young,  both  of  whom  bore  names  that  were  already  famil- 
iar from  an  honorable  parentage,  and  both  of  whom  were 
destined  to  play  very  conspicuous  parts  in  the  House  of 
Commons.  One  of  the  two  men  was  known  to  his  family 
alone,  and  his  intimates,  as  a  youth  of  great  promise  and 
great  knowledge,  which  gave  to  his  twenty  years  the  ripen- 
ed wisdom  of  a  statesman  and  a  scholar.  The  other,  who 
was  eight  years  older,  had  been  for  some  years  in  the  pub- 
lic eye,  had  been  the  hero  of  a  romantic  scandal  which  had 
done  much  to  make  his  name  notorious,  and  had  written 
some  dramatic  works  which  had  done  more  to  make  his 
name  famous.  It  was  a  fortunate  chance  that  when  the 
House  of  Commons  stood  in  need  of  new  blood  and  new 
men  the  same  time  and  the  same  year  saw  the  return  to 
Parliament  of  William  Pitt  and  of  Richard  Brinsley 

It  has  been  said  that  every  reader  of  the  "  Iliad  "  finds 
himself  irresistibly  compelled  to  take  sides  with  one  or 
other  of  the  great  opposing  camps,  and  to  be  thenceforward 
either  a  Greek  or  a  Trojan.  In  something  of  the  same 
spirit  every  student  of  the  reign  of  the  third  George  be- 
comes perforce  a  partisan  of  one  or  other  of  two  statesmen 
who  divided  the  honors  of  its  prime  between  them,  who 
were  opposed  on  all  the  great  questions  of  their  day,  and 
who  represented  at  their  best  the  two  forces  into  which 
English  political  life  was  then,  and  is  still,  divided.  The 
history  of  England  for  the  closing  years  of  the  eighteenth 
century  and  the  early  dawn  of  the  nineteenth  century  is 

212  A    UlSTORY   OF   THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lvi. 

the  history  of  these  two  men  and  of  their  influence.  Those 
who  study  their  age  and  their  career  are  separated  as  keenly 
and  as  hotly  to-day  as  they  were  separated  keenly  and 
liotly  a  hundred  years  ago  into  the  followers  of  Charles 
James  Fox  or  the  followers  of  William  Pitt.  The  record 
of  English  party  politics  is  a  record  of  long  and  splendid 
duels  between  recognized  chiefs  of  the  two  antagonistic 
armies.  What  the  struggle  between  Gladstone  and  Dis- 
raeli, for  example,  was  to  our  own  time,  the  struggle  be- 
tween Fox  and  Pitt  was  to  our  ancestors  of  three  genera- 
tions ago.  All  the  force  and  feeling  that  made  for  what 
we  now  call  liberal  principles  found  its  most  splendid 
representative  in  the  son  of  Lord  Holland:  all  the  force 
and  feeling  that  rallied  around  the  conservative  impulse 
looked  for  and  found  its  ideal  in  the  son  of  Lord  Chatham. 
The  two  men  were  as  much  contrasted  as  the  opinions  that 
they  professed.  To  the  misgoverned,  misguided,  splen- 
didly reckless  boyhood  and  early  manhood  of  Fox  Pitt  op- 
posed the  gravity  and  stillness  of  his  youth.  The  exuber- 
ant animal  vitality  of  Fox,  wasting  itself  overlong  in  the 
flame  of  aimless  passions,  was  emphasized  by  the  solid  re- 
serve, the  passionless  austerity  of  Pitt.  The  one  man  was 
compact  of  all  the  heady  enthusiasms,  the  splendid  gener- 
osities of  a  nature  rich  in  the  vitality  that  sought  eagerly 
new  outlets  for  its  energy,  that  played  hard  as  it  worked 
hard,  that  exulted  in  extremes.  The  other  moved  in  a 
narrow  path  to  one  envisaged  aim,  and,  conscious  of  a  cer- 
tain physical  frailty,  husbanded  his  resources,  limited  the 
scope  of  his  fine  intellect,  and  acted  not  indeed  along  the 
line  of  least  resistance  but  within  lines  of  purpose  that 
were  not  very  far  apart.  The  one  explored  the  mountain 
and  the  valley,  lingered  in  gardens  and  orchards,  or  wan- 
dered at  all  adventure  upon  desolate  heaths ;  the  other  pur- 
sued in  patience  the  white  highway  to  his  goal,  untempted 
or  at  least  unconquered  by  allurements  that  could  prove 
irresistible  to  his  adversary. 

The  two  men  differed  as  much  in  appearance  as  in  mind. 
The  outer  seeming  of  each  is  almost  as  familiar  as  the 
forms  and  faces  of  contemporaries.     Fox  was  massively 

1780.  THE   CHARACTER   OF   THE   YOUNGER   PITT.  213 

corpulent,  furiously  untidy,  a  heroic  sloven,  his  bull  throat 
and  cheeks  too  often  black  with  a  three  days'  beard,  in- 
finitely lovable,  exquisitely  cultured,  capable  of  the  noblest 
tenderness,  yet  with  a  kind  of  grossness  sometimes  that  was 
but  a  part,  and  perhaps  an  inevitable  part,  of  his  wide 
humanity.  Pitt  was  slender,  boyish,  precise,  punctilious 
in  attire,  his  native  composure  only  occasionally  lightened 
by  a  flash  of  humor  or  sweetened  b}''  a  show  of  playfulness, 
old  beyond  his  years  and  young  to  the  end  of  his  short  life, 
sternly  self-restrained  and  self-commanded,  gracious  in  a 
kind  of  melancholy,  unconscious  charm,  a  curiously  un- 
adorned, uncolored  personality,  that  attracted  where  it  did 
attract  with  a  magnetism  that  was  perhaps  all  the  more 
potent  for  being  somewhat  difficult  to  explain.  Fox  was  al- 
ways a  lover  in  many  kinds  of  love,  fugitive,  venal,  illicit, 
honorable,  and  enduring.  Pitt  carried  himself  through 
temptations  with  a  monastic  rigor.  There  was  a  time  when 
his  friends  implored  him  for  the  sake  of  appearances,  and 
not  to  flout  too  flagrantly  the  manners  of  the  time,  to  show 
himself  in  public  with  a  woman  of  the  town.  His  one  love 
story,  strange  and  fruitless,  neither  got  nor  gave  happiness 
and  remains  an  unsolved  mystery. 

There  were  only  two  tastes  held  in  common  by  the  two 
men,  and  those  were  tastes  shared  by  most  of  the  gentle- 
men of  their  generation  and  century,  the  taste  for  politics 
and  the  taste  for  wine.  Men  of  the  class  of  Holland's  son, 
of  Chatham's  son,  if  they  were  not  soldiers  and  sailors, 
and  very  often  when  they  were  soldiers  and  sailors,  went 
into  political  life  as  naturally  as  they  went  into  a  univer- 
sity or  into  the  hunting  field.  In  the  case  of  the  younger 
Fox  and  of  the  younger  Pitt  the  political  direction  was 
conspicuously  inevitable  from  the  beginning.  The  paths 
of  both  lay  plain  from  the  threshold  of  the  nursery  to  the 
threshold  of  St.  Stephen's.  The  lad  who  was  the  chosen 
companion  of  his  father  at  an  age  when  his  contemporaries 
had  only  abandoned  a  horn-book  to  grapple  with  Corderius, 
the  boy  who  learned  the  principles  of  elocution  and  the 
essence  of  debate  from  the  lips  of  the  Great  Commoner, 
were  children  very  specially  fostered  in  the  arts  of  states- 

214  A   HISTORY   OF  THE    FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lvi. 


manship  and  curiously  favored  in  the  knowledge  that 
enables  men  to  guide  and  govern  men.  From  the  other 
taste  there  was  no  escape,  or  little  escape,  possible  for  the 
men  of  that  day.  It  would  have  been  strange  indeed  if 
Fox  had  been  absolved  from  the  love  of  wine,  which  was 
held  by  every  one  he  knew,  from  his  father's  old  friend 
and  late  enemy  Rigby  to  the  elderly  place-holder,  gam- 
bler, and  letter-writer  Selwyn,  who  loved,  slandered,  and 
failed  to  ruin  Fox's  brilliant  youth.  It  would  have  been 
impossible  for  Pitt,  floated  through  a  precarious  childhood 
on  floods  of  Oporto,  to  liberate  his  blood  and  judgment 
from  the  generous  liquor  that  promised  him  a  strength  it 
sapped.  It  was  no  more  disgrace  to  the  austere  Pitt  than 
to  the  profligate  Fox  to  come  to  the  House  of  Commons 
visibly  under  the  influence  of  much  more  wine  than 
could  possibly  have  been  good  for  Hercules.  Sobriety  was 
not  unknown  among  statesmen  even  in  those  days  of  many 
bottles,  but  intoxication  was  no  shame,  and  Burke  was  no 
more  commended  for  his  temperance  than  Fox,  or  Pitt,  or 
Sheridan  were  blamed  for  their  intemperance. 

William  Pitt  was  born  in  1759,  when  George  the  Second 
still  seemed  stable  on  his  throne,  and  when  the  world  knew 
nothing  of  that  grandson  and  heir  to  whose  service  the 
child  of  Chatham  was  to  be  devoted.  He  was  the  fourth 
child  and  second  son;  the  third  son  and  last  child  of 
Chatham  was  born  two  years  later.  William  Pitt  was  deli- 
cate from  his  infancy,  and  by  reason  of  his  delicacy  was 
never  sent  to  school.  He  was  educated  by  private  tuition, 
directly  guided  and  controlled  by  his  father.  From  the 
first  he  was  precocious,  full  of  promise,  full  of  perform- 
ance. He  acquired  knowledge  eagerly  and  surely;  what 
he  learned  he  learned  well  and  thoroughly.  Trained  from 
his  cradle  in  the  acquirements  essential  to  a  public  life,  he 
applied  himself,  as  soon  as  he  was  of  an  age  to  appreciate 
his  tastes  and  to  form  a  purpose,  to  equipping  himself  at 
all  points  for  a  political  career.  When  the  great  Chatham 
died  he  left  behind  him  a  son  who  was  to  be  as  famous 
as  himself,  a  statesman  formed  in  his  own  school,  trained 
in  his  own  methods,  inspired  by  his  counsels,  and  guided  by 

1759-80.  THE   YOUTH    OF   THE   YOUXGER   PITT.  215 

his  example.     A  legend  which  may  be  more  than  legend 
has  it  that  from  the  first  destiny  seemed  determined  to 
confront  the  genius  and  the  fame  of  Fox  with  the  genius 
and  the  fame  of  Pitt.     It  is  said  that  the  Foxes  were  as- 
sured by  a  relative  of  the  Pitts  that  the  young  son  of 
Chatham,  then  a  child  under  a  tutor's  charge,  showed  parts 
which  were  sure  to  prove  him  a  formidable  rival  to  the  pre- 
cocious youth  who  was  at  once  the  delight  and  the  despair 
of  Lord  Holland's  life.     It  is  certain  that  the  young  Fox 
wa«  early  made  acquainted  with  the  ripe  intelligence  and 
eager  genius  of  the  younger  Pitt.     It  was  his  chance  to 
stand  with  the  boy  one  night  at  the  bar  of  the  House  of 
Lords,  and  to  be  attracted  and  amazed  at  the  avidity  with 
which  Pitt  followed  the  debate,  the  sagacity  with  which 
he  commented  upon  what  he  saw  and  heard,  and  the  readi- 
ness with  which  he  formulated  answers  to  arguments  which 
failed  to  carry  conviction  to  his  da^vning  wisdom.     Pitt 
loved  the  House  of  Commons  while  he  was  still  in  the 
schoolroom;  it  was  inevitable  that  he  should  belong  to  the 
House  of  Commons,  and  he  entered  it  at  the  earliest  pos- 
sible moment,  even  before  he  was  legally  qualified  to  do  so, 
for  he  was  not  quite  of  age  when  he  first  took  his  seat. 

The  qualities  of  fairness  and  fitness  which  Greek  wis- 
dom praised  in  the  conduct  of  life  were  characteristic  of 
Pitt's  life.  In  its  zealous,  patient  preparation  for  public 
life,  its  noble  girding  of  the  loins  against  great  issues,  its 
wistful  renunciation  of  human  hopes,  its  early  conscious- 
ness of  terrible  disease,  its  fortitude  in  the  face  of  catas- 
trophes so  unexpected  and  so  cruel;  in  its  pensive  isola- 
tion, in  the  richness  of  those  early  successes  that  seemed  as 
if  in  anticipation  to  offer  compensation  for  the  early  death, 
his  life  seems  to  have  been  adorned  with  certain  ornaments 
and  ordered  by  certain  laws  that  make  it  strangely  comely, 
curiously  symmetrical.  In  that  youth  of  his  which  was 
never  quite  young,  and  which  was  never  allowed  to 
grow  old,  in  his  austere  attitude  to  so  much  that 
youth  holds  most  dear,  in  the  high  passion  of  his 
patriotism  with  its  eager  desire,  so  often  and  so  sternly 
thwarted,  to  add  to  England's  glory,  he  stands  apart  from 


many  greater  and  many  wiser  men,  in  a  melancholy,  lonely 
dignity.  It  has  been  given  to  few  men  to  inspire  more 
passionate  attachment  in  the  minds  of  his  contemporaries ; 
it  has  been  given  to  few  statesmen  to  be  regarded  abroad, 
by  e3'es  for  the  most  part  envious  or  hostile,  as  pre-emi- 
nently representative  of  the  qualities  that  made  his  coun- 
try at  once  disliked  and  feared.  His  political  instincts 
were  for  the  most  part  admirable,  and  if  it  had  been  his 
fortune  to  serve  a  sovereign  more  reasonable,  more  tem- 
perate, and  more  intelligent  than  George  the  Third  his 
name  might  have  been  written  among  the  great  reformers 
of  the  world.  At  home  an  unhappy  deference  to  the  dic- 
tates of  a  rash  and  incapable  king,  abroad  an  enforced 
opposition  to  one  of  the  greatest  forces  and  one  of  the 
greatest  conquerors  that  European  civilization  has  seen, 
prevented  Pitt  from  gaining  that  position  to  which  his 
genius,  under  conditions  less  persistently  unhappy,  would 
have  entitled  him.  To  have  gained  what  he  did  gain 
under  such  conditions  was  in  itself  a  triumph. 

The  new-comer  who  entered  Parliament  at  the  same 
period  as  William  Pitt  was  as  curiously  unlike  him  as  even 
Fox  himself.  If  few  knew  anything  of  Pitt  every  one 
knew  something  of  Sheridan,  who  had  already  made  fame 
in  one  career  and  was  now  about  to  make  fame  in  another. 
It  may  afford  consolation  to  the  unappreciated  to  reflect 
that  the  most  famous  English  dramatist  since  Shake- 
speare's day,  the  brightest  wit  of  an  age  which  piqued  it- 
self into  being  considered  witt}^  the  most  brilliant  orator 
of  an  age  which  regarded  oratory  as  one  of  the  greatest  of 
the  arts,  and  whose  roll  is  studded  with  the  names  of  illus- 
trious orators,  the  most  unrivalled  humorist  of  a  century 
which  in  all  parts  of  the  world  distinguished  itself  by  its 
love  of  humor,  was  looked  upon  in  his  nonage  as  a  dull, 
unpromising  boy,  chiefly  remarkable  for  his  idleness  and 

The  quality  which  we  now  call  Bohemianism  certainly 
ran  in  Sheridan's  blood.  His  grandfather.  Dr.  Thomas 
Sheridan,  the  friend  of  Swift,  the  Dublin  clergyman  and 
schoolmaster,  was  a  delightfully  amiable,  wholly  reckless. 

1751-80.       THE   PARENTS  OF  BRINSLEY   SHERIDAN.  217 

slovenly,  indigent,  and  cheerful  personage.  His  father, 
Thomas  Sheridan,  was  a  no  less  cheerful,  no  less  careless 
man,  who  turned  play-actor,  and  taught  elocution,  and 
married  a  woman  who  wrote  novels  and  a  life  of  Swift. 
At  one  time  he  could  boast  the  friendship  of  Dr.  Johnson, 
who  seems  to  have  regarded  him  with  an  ill-humored  con- 
tempt, but  Dr.  Johnson's  expression  of  this  contempt 
brought  about  a  quarrel.  The  most  remarkable  thing 
about  him  is  that  he  was  the  father  of  his  son.  Neither  he 
nor  his  wife  appears  to  have  had  any  idea  of  their  good 
fortune.  Mrs,  Sheridan  once  declared  of  her  two  boys  that 
she  had  never  met  with  "  two  such  impenetrable  dunces." 
None  the  less  the  father  contrived  with  difficulty  to  scrape 
together  enough  money  to  send  his  boys  to  Harrow,  and 
there,  luckily.  Dr.  Parr  discerned  that  Eichard,  with  all  his 
faults,  was  by  no  means  an  impenetrable  dunce.  Both  he 
and  Sumner,  the  head-master  of  Harrow,  discovered  in  the 
schoolboy  Sheridan  great  talents  which  neither  of  them 
was  capable  of  calling  into  action. 

Eichard  Sheridan  came  from  Harrow  School  and  Har- 
row pla3'grounds  to  London,  and,  later  on,  to  Bath.  Lon- 
don did  not  make  him  much  more  industrious  or  more 
careful  than  he  had  been  at  Harrow-on-the-Hill.  It  was 
far  pleasanter  to  translate  the  honeyed  Greek  of  Theocri- 
tus, with  its  babble  of  Sicilian  shepherds,  its  nymphs  and 
waters  and  Sicilian  seas,  than  to  follow  the  beaten  track 
of  ordinary  education.  It  was  vastly  more  entertaining 
to  translate  the  impassioned  prose  of  Aristaenetus  into  im- 
passioned verse,  especially  in  collaboration  with  a  cherish- 
ed friend,  than  to  yawn  over  Euclid  and  to  grumble  over 
Cocker.  The  translation  of  Aristaenetus,  the  boyish  task 
of  Sheridan  and  his  friend  Halhed,  still  enjoj^s  a  sort  of 
existence  in  the  series  of  classical  translations  in  Bohn's 
Library.  It  is  one  of  the  ironies  of  literature  that  fate 
has  preserved  this  translation  while  it  has  permitted  the 
two  Begum  speeches,  that  in  the  House  of  Commons  and 
that  in  Westminster  Hall,  practically  to  perish.  What 
little  interest  does  now  cling  to  the  early  work  belongs  to 
the  fact  of  its  being  a  collaboration.    Halhed,  who  worked 

218  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lvi. 

with  Sheridan  at  the  useless  task,  was  a  clever  young  Ox- 
ford student,  who  was  as  poor  as  he  was  clever,  and  who 
seemed  to  entertain  the  eccentric  idea  that  large  sums  of 
money  were  to  be  readily  obtained  from  the  reading  pub- 
lic for  a  rendering  in  flippant  verse  of  the  prose  of  an 
obscure  author  whose  very  identity  is  involved  in  doubt. 
Aristaenetus  did  not  become  the  talk  of  the  town  even 
in  spite  of  an  ingeniously  promulgated  rumor  assigning 
the  authorship  of  the  verses  to  Dr.  Johnson.  Neither  did 
the  plays  and  essays  in  which  the  friends  collaborated 
meet  with  any  prosperous  fate. 

From  the  doing  of  Greek  prose  into  English  verse  Sheri- 
dan and  Halhed  turned  to  another  occupation,  in  which, 
as  in  the  first,  they  were  both  of  the  same  mind.  They 
both  fell  in  love,  and  both  fell  in  love  with  the  same 
woman.  All  contemporary  accounts  agree  in  regarding 
the  daughter  of  Linley  the  musician  as  one  of  the  most 
beautiful  women  of  her  age.  Those  who  knew  the  portrait 
which  the  greatest  painter  of  his  time  painted  of  Sheri- 
dan's wife  as  St.  Cecilia  will  understand  the  extraordinary, 
the  almost  universal  homage  which  society  and  art,  wit 
and  wealth,  and  genius  and  rank  paid  to  Miss  Linley. 
Unlike  the  girl  in  Sheridan's  own  poem,  who  is  assured 
by  her  adorer  that  she  will  meet  with  friends  in  all  the 
aged  and  lovers  in  the  young.  Miss  Linley  found  old  men 
as  well  as  young  men  competing  for  her  affection  and  for 
the  honor  of  her  hand. 

Sheridan  and  Halhed  were  little  more  than  bovs  when 
they  first  beheld  and  at  once  adored  Miss  Linley.  Charles 
Sheridan,  Richard's  elder  brother,  was  still  a  very  young 
man.  But  Miss  Linley  had  old  lovers  too,  men  long  past 
the  middle  pathway  of  their  lives,  who  besought  her  to 
marry  them  with  all  the  impetuosity  of  youth.  One  of 
them,  whom  she  wisely  rejected  on  the  ground  that  wealth 
alone  could  not  compensate  for  the  disparity  in  years,  car- 
ried off  his  disappointment  gracefully  enough  by  imme- 
diately settling  a  sum  of  three  thousand  pounds  upon  the 
young  lady. 

There  is  an  air  of  romance  over  the  whole  course  of 

nil.        MARRIAGE   OF   SHERIDAN   AND   MISS   LINLEY.  219 

Sheridan's  attachment  to  Miss  Linley.  For  a  long  time 
he  contrived  to  keep  his  attachment  a  secret  from  his  elder 
brother,  Charles,  and  from  his  friend  Halhed,  both  of 
whom  were  madly  in  love  with  Miss  Linley,  and  neither 
of  whom  appears  to  have  had  the  faintest  suspicion  of 
finding  a  rival,  the  one  in  so  close  a  kinsman,  the  other 
in  his  own  familiar  friend.  It  must  be  admitted  that 
Sheridan  does  not  appear  to  have  behaved  with  that  up- 
rightness which  was  to  be  expected  from  his  gallant,  im- 
petuous nature.  Not  merely  did  he  keep  his  secret  from 
his  brother  and  his  friend,  but  he  seems  to  have  allowed 
his  friend  to  look  upon  him  as  a  confidant  and  ally  in 
pressing  Halhed's  suit  upon  Miss  Linley.  Halhed  re- 
proached him  sadly,  but  not  bitterly,  in  a  poetical  epistle, 
the  value  of  which  is  more  personal  than  poetical,  when 
he  discovered  the  real  mind  of  his  friend.  Then,  like  a 
wise  man  if  a  sad  one,  Halhed  went  away.  He  sailed  for 
India,  the  golden  land  of  so  many  wrecked  hopes  and  dis- 
appointed ambitions;  he  long  outlived  his  first  love  and 
his  successful  rival;  he  became  in  the  fulness  of  time  a 
member  of  Parliament,  and  he  died  in  1830.  He  is  dimly 
remembered  as  the  author  of  a  grammar  of  the  Bengalee 
language  and  of  a  work  on  Gentoo  laws  translated  from 
the  Persian. 

Sheridan's  courtship  progressed  more  and  more  roman- 
tically. The  persecutions  of  a  married  rake  named  Mat- 
thews drove  Miss  Linley  to  fly  to  France  with  Sheridan, 
to  whom  she  was  secretly  married  at  Calais.  The  revenge- 
ful and  disappointed  Matthews  inserted  a  libellous  attack 
upon  Sheridan  in  the  Bath  Chronicle.  Sheridan  extorted 
at  his  sword's  point  a  public  apology  from  Matthews. 
Further  and  baser  mendacity  on  the  part  of  Matthews  pro- 
voked a  second  duel,  in  which  the  combatants  seem  to  have 
fought  with  desperate  ferocity,  and  in  which  Sheridan, 
badly  wounded,  refused  to  ask  his  life  at  the  hands  of  his 
antagonist  and  was  only  rescued  by  the  seconds.  A  long 
period  of  separation  followed,  full  of  dark  hours  for  Sheri- 
dan, hours  only  brightened  by  occasional  meetings  of  the 
most  eccentric  kind,  as  when  the  wild  young  poet,  quaintly 

220  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lti. 

disguised  in  the  complicated  capes  of  a  hackney  coachman, 
had  the  tormenting  privilege  of  driving  his  beloved  from 
Covcnt  Garden  Theatre,  where  her  voice  and  beauty  were 
nightly  charming  all  London.  At  last  the  opposition  of 
Linley  was  overcome,  and  on  April  13,  1773,  the  most 
brilliant  man  and  most  beautiful  woman  of  their  day  were 
for  the  second  time  and  more  formally  married,  and  a 
series  of  adventures  more  romantic  than  fiction  came  to 
an  end. 

The  romance,  it  is  agreeable  to  think,  did  not  conclude 
with  the  marriage  ceremony.  Sheridan  seems  to  have 
offered  his  wife  as  devoted  an  attachment  after  her  mar- 
riage as  he  had  shown  in  the  days  of  duelling  and  dis- 
guising that  preceded  it.  He  wrote  verses  to  her,  and  she 
wrote  verses  to  him,  long  after  they  had  settled  down  to 
serene  domesticity,  which  breathe  the  most  passionate  ex- 
pressions of  mutual  love.  And  yet  there  is  a  legend — it  is 
to  be  hoped  and  believed  that  it  is  only  a  legend — which 
ends  the  romance  very  sadly.  According  to  the  legend 
young  Lord  Edward  Fitzgerald,  Sheridan's  close  friend^ 
felt  more  than  a  friend's  admiration  for  the  wife  of  his 
friend.  According  to  the  legend  Elizabeth  Sheridan  re- 
turned the  passion,  which  by  the  unhappiness  it  brought 
with  it  shortened  her  life.  According  to  the  legend  Lord 
Edward  only  married  the  fair  Pamela,  Philippe  Egalite's 
daughter,  because  of  the  striking  resemblance  she  bore  to 
the  St.  Cecilia  of  his  dreams.  The  legend  rests  on  the 
authority  of  Madame  de  Genlis,  who  was  probably  Pa- 
mela's mother  and  who  is  no  infallible  authority.  It  is 
possible  that  the  undoubted  resemblance  of  Pamela  to  Mrs. 
Sheridan  is  the  origin  of  the  whole  story.  Lord  Edward 
was  always  falling  in  love  in  a  graceful,  chivalrous  kind 
of  way.  But  there  is  no  serious  proof  that  his  friendship 
for  Mrs.  Sheridan  was  anything  more  than  the  friendship 
an  honorable  man  may  entertain  for  the  wife  of  his  friend. 
The  graver  and  more  authentic  story  of  Fitzgerald's  life 
has  yet  to  be  told  in  these  pages. 

For  a  brief  period  after  his  marriage  Sheridan  thought 
of  devoting  himself  to  the  law.     But  his  thoughts  and 

1775.         SHERIDAN   AS   DRAMATIST   AND    POLITICIAN.  221 

tastes  were  otherwise  inclined,  and  on  January  27,  1775, 
not  quite  two  years  after  his  marriage,  "  The  Rivals  "  was 
produced  at  Co  vent  Garden  and  a  new  chapter  opened  in 
the  historv  of  dramatic  literature.  It  is  curious  to  think 
that  the  clumsiness  of  the  player  to  whom  the  part  of  Sir 
Lucius  O'Trigger  was  given  came  very  near  to  damning 
the  most  brilliant  comedy  that  the  English  stage  had  seen 
for  nearly  two  centuries.  The  happy  substitution  of  actor 
Clinch  for  actor  Lee,  however,  saved  the  piece  and  made 
Sheridan  the  most  popular  author  in  London.  How  grate- 
ful Sheridan  felt  to  Clinch  for  rescuing  Sir  Lucius  is 
shown  by  the  fact  that  his  next  production,  the  farce 
called  "  St.  Patrick's  Day ;  or,  the  Scheming  Lieutenant," 
was  expressly  written  to  afford  opportunity  for  Clinch's 
peculiar  talents.  In  1777  came  "  The  School  for  Scan- 
dal," Sheridan's  masterpiece,  which  was  followed  by  Sheri- 
dan's last  dramatic  work,  "  The  Critic."  Never  probably 
before  was  so  splendid  a  success  gained  so  rapidly,  so 
steadily  increased  in  so  short  a  time,  to  come  so  abruptly 
to  an  end  in  the  very  pride  of  its  triumph. 

Quite  suddenly  the  most  famous  English  author  then 
alive  found  opportunity  for  the  display  of  wholly  new 
and  unexpected  talents,  and  became  one  of  the  most  fa- 
mous politicians  and  orators  alive.  There  had,  indeed, 
always  been  a  certain  political  bent  in  Sheridan's  mind. 
He  had  tried  his  hand  at  many  political  pamphlets,  frag- 
ments of  which  were  found  among  his  papers  by  Moore. 
He  had  always  taken  the  keenest  interest  in  the  great 
questions  which  agitated  the  political  life  of  the  waning 
eighteenth  century.  The  general  election  of  1780  gave 
him  an  opportunity  of  expressing  this  interest  in  the  pub- 
lic field,  and  he  was  returned  to  Parliament  as  member  for 
the  borough  of  Stamford.  It  is  difficult  to  find  a  parallel 
in  our  history  for  the  extraordinary  success  which  attended 
Sheridan  in  his  political  life  as  it  had  already  attended 
him  in  his  dramatic  career. 

Just  on  the  threshold  of  his  political  career  Sheridan 
lost  the  wife  he  loved  so  well.  He  was  profoundly  af- 
flicted, but  the  affliction  lessened  and  he  married  a  Miss 

222  A   UISTORY    OF   THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lvi. 

Ogle.  There  is  a  story  told  in  connection  with  this  second 
marriage  which  is  half  melancholy,  half  humorous,  and 
wholly  pathetic.  The  second  Mrs.  Sheridan,  young,  clever, 
and  ardently  devoted  to  her  husband,  was  found  one  day, 
according  to  this  story,  walking  up  and  down  her  drawing- 
room  apparently  in  a  frantic  state  of  mind  because  she  had 
discovered  that  the  love-letters  Sheridan  had  sent  to  her 
were  the  same  as  those  which  he  had  written  to  his  first 
wife.  Word  for  word,  sentence  for  sentence,  passion  for 
passion,  they  were  the  same  letters.  No  doubt  Sheridan 
made  his  peace.  It  is  to  be  presumed  that  he  thought  the 
letters  so  good  that  they  might  very  well  serve  a  second 
turn;  but  this  act  of  literary  parsimony  was  not  happy. 
Parsimony  of  his  written  work  was,  however,  Sheridan's 
peculiarity.  Verses  addressed  to  his  dear  St.  Cecilia  make 
their  appearance  again  and  again,  under  altered  conditions, 
in  his  plays.  It  is  singular  enough,  as  has  been  happily 
said,  that  the  treasures  of  wit  which  Sheridan  was  thought 
to  possess  in  such  profusion  should  have  been  the  only 
species  of  wealth  which  he  ever  dreamed  of  economizing. 

1781.       FALL   OF   THE   LORD   NORTH   ADMINISTRATION.         223 



Pitt  entered  public  life  the  inheritor  of  a  great  name, 
the  transmitter  of  a  great  policy,  at  a  time  when  the  coun- 
try was  in  difficulty  and  the  Government  in  danger.  In 
the  January  of  1?81  Xorth  was  still  in  power,  was  still 
supported  by  the  King,  had  still  some  poor  shreds  of  hope 
that  something,  anything  might  happen  to  bring  England 
well  out  of  the  struggle  with  America.  In  the  Xovember 
of  the  same  year  Xorth  reeled  to  his  fall  with  the  news  of 
the  surrender  of  Cornwallis  at  Yorktown.  In  those  ten 
months  Pitt  had  already  made  himself  a  name  in  the 
House  of  Commons.  He  was  no  longer  merely  the  son 
of  Pitt;  he  was  Pitt.  He  had  attached  himself  to  an 
Opposition  that  was  studded  with  splendid  names,  and 
had  proved  that  his  presence  added  to  its  lustre.  The 
heroes  and  leaders  of  Opposition  at  Westminster  welcomed 
him  to  their  ranks  with  a  generous  admiration  and  en- 
thusiasm. Fox,  ever  ready  to  applaud  possible  genius, 
soon  pronounced  him  to  be  one  of  the  first  men  in  Parlia- 
ment. Burke  hailed  him,  not  as  a  chip  of  the  old  block, 
but  as  the  old  block  itself.  The  praises  of  Burke  and  of 
Fox  were  great,  but  they  were  not  undeserved.  When 
the  Ministry  of  Lord  North  fell  into  the  dust,  when  the 
King  was  compelled  to  accept  the  return  of  the  Whigs  to 
office,  Pitt  had  already  gained  a  position  which  entitled 
him  in  his  own  eyes  not  to  accept  office  but  to  refuse  it. 

Pockingham  formed  a  Ministry  for  the  second  time. 
The  new  Ministry  was  formed  of  an  alliance  between  the 
two  armies  of  the  Eockingham  Whigs  and  the  Shelburne 
Whigs.  Eockingham  represented  the  political  princi- 
ples   that    dated    from    the    days    of    Walpole.      Shel- 

2i>4  A   HISTORY   OF   THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lvii. 

buriie  rc])rcsentcd,  or  misrepresented,  the  principles 
that  dated  from  the  days  of  Chatham.  The  King 
would  very  much  have  preferred  to  take  Shelburne  with- 
out Kockingham,  but  even  the  King  had  to  recognize  that 
il  was  impossible  to  gratify  his  preference.  Even  if  Shel- 
burne had  been  a  much  better  leader  than  he  was  he  had 
not  the  following  which  would  entitle  him  to  form  a 
Ministry  on  his  own  account.  And  Shelburne  was  by  no 
means  a  good  leader.  To  the  Liberal  politician  of  to-day 
Shelburne  seems  a  much  more  desirable  and  admirable 
statesman  than  Eockingham.  Most  of  his  political  ideas 
were  in  advance  of  liis  time,  and  his  personal  friendships 
prove  him  to  have  been  a  man  of  appreciative  intelligence. 
He  had  proved  his  courage  in  his  youth  as  a  soldier  at 
Campen  and  ]\Iinden;  he  had  maintained  his  courage  in 
1T80  when  he  faced  and  was  wounded  by  the  pistol  of 
FuHarton.  But  his  gifts,  whatever  they  were,  were  not 
of  the  quality  nor  the  quantity  to  make  a  leader  of  men. 
lie  could  not  form  a  IMinistry  for  himself,  and  he  was  not 
an  element  of  stability  in  any  Ministry  of  which  he  was  a 
member.  The  Administration  formed  by  the  alliance  of 
Rockino^ham  and  Shelburne  could  boast  of  many  brilliant 
names,  and  showed  itself  laudably  anxious  to  add  to  their 
number.  In  an  Administration  which  had  Fox  for  a  Sec- 
retary of  State,  Burke  for  Paymaster-General  of  the 
Forces,  and  Slieridan  for  Under-Secretary  of  State,  the 
Vice-Treasurership  of  Ireland  was  offered  to  Pitt. 

Pitt  declined  the  offer.  He  had  made  up  his  mind  that 
he  would  not  accept  a  subordinate  situation.  Conscious 
of  his  ability,  he  was  prepared  to  wait.  He  had  not  to  wait 
long.  During  the  four  agitated  months  of  life  allowed  to 
the  Rockingham  Administration  Pitt  distinguished  him- 
self by  a  motion  for  reform  in  the  representative  system 
which  was  applauded  by  Fox  and  by  Sheridan,  but  which 
was  defeated  by  twenty  votes.  Peace  and  reform  were  al- 
ways passions  deeply  seated  at  the  heart  of  Pitt;  it  was 
ironic  chance  that  associated  him  hereafter  so  intimately 
with  war  and  with  antagonism  to  so  many  methods  of  re- 
form in  which  he  earnestly  believed.     When  the  quarrels 

1782.  FOX'S   QUARREL   WITH   PITT.  225 

between  Fox  and  Shelburne  over  the  settlement  of  the 
American  war  ended  after  Eockingham's  death  in  July, 
1782,  in  the  withdrawal  from  the  Ministry  of  Fox,  Burke, 
and  the  majority  of  the  Rockingham  party,  Pitt  rightly 
saw  that  his  hour  had  come.  Fox  resigned  rather  than 
serve  with  Shelburne,  Pitt  accepted  Shelburne,  and  made 
Shelburne's  political  existence  possible  a  little  longer. 
With  the  aid  of  Pitt,  Shelburne  could  hold  on  and  let  Fox 
go;  without  Pitt,  Fox  would  have  triumphed  over  Shel- 
burne. From  this  moment  began  the  antagonism  between 
Fox  and  Pitt  which  was  to  last  for  the  remainder  of  their 
too  brief  lives.  At  the  age  of  twenty-three  Pitt  found  him- 
self Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer,  and  one  of  the  most  con- 
spicuous men  in  the  kingdom.  Fox,  who  was  ten  years 
older,  was  defeated  by  the  youth  whose  rivalry  had  been 
predicted  to  Fox  when  the  youth  was  yet  a  child. 

Pitt's  triumph  lasted  less  than  a  year.  Fox,  conscious 
of  his  own  great  purposes,  and  eager  to  return  to  office 
for  their  better  advancement,  was  prepared  to  pay  a  gam- 
bler's price  for  power.  To  overthrow  Shelburne  and  with 
Shelburne  Pitt,  he  needed  a  pretext  and  an  ally.  The  pre- 
text was  easy  to  find.  He  had  but  to  maintain  that  the 
terms  of  the  peace  with  America  were  not  the  best  that 
the  country  had  a  right  to  expect.  The  ally  was  easy  to 
find  and  disastrous  to  accept.  Nothing  in  the  whole 
of  Fox's  history  is  more  regrettable  than  his  unnatural 
alliance  with  Lord  North.  Ever  since  the  hour  when  Fox 
had  found  his  true  self,  and  had  passed  from  the  ranks  of 
the  obedient  servants  of  the  King  into  the  ranks  of  those 
who  devoted  themselves  to  the  principles  of  liberty,  there 
had  been  nothing  and  there  could  have  been  nothing  in 
common  between  Fox  and  North.  Everything  that  Fox 
held  most  dear  was  detestable  to  North,  as  North's  politi- 
cal doctrines  were  now  detestable  to  Fox.  The  political 
enmity  of  the  two  men  had  been  bitter  in  the  extreme,  and 
Fox  had  assailed  North  with  a  violence  which  might  well 
seem  to  have  made  any  form  of  political  reconciliation  im- 
possible. Yet  North  was  now  the  man  with  whom  Fox 
was  content  to  throw  in  his  lot  in  order  to  obtain  the  over- 

VOL.   III. — 8 

226  A    LilSTURV    OK   THE   I'olR  GEOK(iES.  (h.  lvii. 

throw  of  Sholburiie  and  of  Pitt.  And  Fox  was  not  alone 
anions,^  c^reat  Wlii^s  in  this  extraordinary  transaction.  He 
carried  lUirke  witli  him  in  this  unlioly  alliance  between  all 
that  was  worst  and  all  that  was  best  in  Enp^lish  political 
life.  The  two  men  whose  genius  and  whose  eloquence  had 
been  the  most  potent  factors  in  the  fall  of  North  a  year  be- 
fore were  now  the  means  of  bringing  the  discredited  and 
defeated  statesman  back  again  into  the  exercise  of  a  ])ower 
which,  as  none  knew  better  than  they,  he  had  so  shame- 
fully misused.  Fox  and  North  between  them  swept  Shel- 
burne  out  of  the  field.  Fox  and  North  between  them  were 
able  to  force  a  Coalition  ]\rinistry  upon  a  reluctant  and  in- 
dignant King.  The  followers  of  Fox  and  the  followers  of 
North  in  combination  formed  so  numerous  and  so  solid  a 
party  that  they  were  a])le  to  treat  the  sovereign  with  a 
lack  of  ceremony  to  which  he  was  little  used.  Fox  had 
gone  out  of  office  rather  than  admit  that  the  right  to 
nominate  the  first  minister  rested  with  the  King  instead 
of  with  the  Cabinet.  Now  that  he  had  returned  to  office, 
he  showed  his  determination  to  act  up  to  his  principles  by 
not  permitting  the  King  to  nominate  a  single  minister. 

The  King's  contempt  for  North  since  the  failure  to 
coerce  America,  the  King's  dislike  of  Fox  since  Fox  be- 
came an  advanced  politician,  were  deepened  now  into  un- 
compromising and  unscrupulous  enmity  by  the  cavalier 
conduct  of  the  coalition.  The  King,  with  his  doggedness 
of  purpose  and  his  readiness  to  use  any  weapons  against 
those  whom  he  chose  to  regard  as  his  enemies,  was  a  serious 
danger  even  to  a  coalition  that  seemed  so  formidable 
as  the  coalition  between  Fox  and  North.  Fox  may 
very  well  have  thought  that  his  unjustifiable  league 
with  North  would  at  least  have  the  result  of  giving  him 
sufficient  time  and  sufficient  influence  to  carry  into  effect 
seme  of  those  schemes  for  the  good  of  the  country  which 
he  had  most  nearly  at  heart.  The  statesman  who  makes 
some  unhappy  surrender  of  principle,  some  ignoble  con- 
cession to  opportunity  in  order  to  obtain  power,  makes  his 
unworthy  bargain  from  a  conviction  that  his  hold  of  office 
is  essential  to  the  welfare  of  the  State,  and  that  a  little 

1783.  FOX'S   COALITION   WITH   LORD   NORTH.  227 

evil  is  excusable  for  a  great  good.  The  sophistry  that  de- 
ceives the  politician  does  not  deceive  the  public.  Fox 
gravely  injured  his  position  v\dth  the  people  who  loved  him 
by  stooping  to  the  pact  with  Xorth,  and  he  did  not  reap 
that  reward  of  success  in  his  own  high-minded  and  high- 
hearted purposes  which  could  alone  have  excused  his  con- 
duct. The  great  coalition  which  was  to  stand  so  strong 
and  to  work  such  wonders  was  destined  to  vanish  like  a 
breath  after  accomplishing  nothing,  and  to  condemn  Fox 
with  all  his  hopes  and  dreams  to  a  career  of  almost  un- 
broken opposition  for  the  rest  of  his  life.  If  anything  in 
Fox's  checkered  career  could  be  more  tragic  than  the 
degradation  of  his  union  with  the  politician  whom  he  de- 
clared to  be  void  of  every  principle  of  honor  and  honesty, 
it  was  the  abiding  consequences  of  the  retribution  that 
followed  it.  Fox  had  fought  hard  and  with  success  to 
live  down  the  follies  of  his  youth.  He  had  to  fight  harder 
and  with  far  less  success  to  live  down  what  the  world  per- 
sisted in  regarding  as  the  infamy  of  his  association  with 

It  is  difficult  to  realize  the  arguments  which  persuaded 
Fox,  which  persuaded  Burke,  to  join  their  forces  with  the 
fallen  minister  whom  their  own  mouths,  but  a  little  while 
before,  had,  in  no  measured  terms,  declared  to  be  guilty 
of  the  basest  conduct  and  deserving  of  the  severest  punish- 
ment. All  that  we  know  of  Fox,  all  that  we  know  of  Burke 
— and  it  is  possible  to  know  them  almost  as  well  as  if  they 
were  the  figures  of  contemporary  history — would  seem  to 
deny  the  possibility  of  their  condescending  to  any  act  of 
conscious  baseness.  Stained  and  sullied  as  the  youth  of 
Fox  had  been  with  some  of  the  more  flagrant  vices  of 
a  flagrantly  vicious  society,  his  record  as  gambler,  as 
spendthrift,  and  as  libertine  seems  relatively  clean  in  com- 
parison with  this  strange  act  of  public  treason  to  the 
chosen  beliefs  of  his  manhood,  of  public  apostasy  from 
those  high  and  generous  principles  by  whose  strenuous  ad- 
vocacy he  had  redeemed  his  wasted  youth.  Fiery  as 
Burke's  temper  had  often  proved  itself  to  be,  fantastic 
and  grotesque  as  his  obstinacy  had  often  showed  itself  in 

228  A    HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  i.vii. 

clinging  tleliantly  to  some  crotchet  or  whimsey,  that  seemed 
to  the  spectator  unworthy  the  adhesion  of  his  great  in- 
tellect, his  most  eccentric  action,  his  most  erratic  impulse, 
appeared  sweetly  reasonable  and  serenely  lucid  when  con- 
trasted with  the  conduct  that  allowed  him  to  guide  or  he 
guided  by  Fox  in  a  course  that  proved  as  foolish  as  it 
looked  disgraceful,  to  lead  or  to  follow  Fox  into  packing 
cards  with  their  arch-enemy  of  the  American  war. 

On  the  face  of  it  there  is  nothing  that  seems  not  merely 
to  justify,  but  even  to  palliate,  the  conduct  of  Fox  and 
Burke.  Ugly  as  the  deed  seemed  to  the  men  of  their  day, 
to  the  men  wdio  believed  in  them,  trusted  them,  loved  them, 
it  seems  no  less  ugly  to  those  who  at  the  distance  of  a  cen- 
tury revere  their  memories  and  cherish  their  teachings. 
One  thing  may  be,  must  be,  assumed  by  those  before  whom 
the  lives  of  Fox  and  Burke  lie  bare — that  men  so  animated 
by  high  principles,  so  illuminated  by  high  ideals,  cannot 
deliberately,  of  set  purpose,  have  sinned  against  the  light. 
They  must  have  felt,  and  strongly  felt,  their  Justifica- 
tion for  entering  on  a  course  which  was  destined  to  prove 
so  disastrous.  Their  justification  probably  was  the  con- 
viction, nursed  if  not  expressed,  that  to  statesmen  whose 
hands  were  so  full  of  blessings,  to  statesmen,  whose  hearts 
were  so  big  with  splendid  enterprises,  a  trivial  show  of 
concession,  a  little  paltering  wdth  the  punctilio  of  honor, 
a  little  eating  of  brave  words,  and  a  little  swallowing  of 
principle,  was  a  small  price  to  pay  and  a  price  well  w^orth 
paying  for  the  immeasurable  good  that  England  was  to 
gather  from  their  supremacy. 

Whatever  may  have  been  the  motives  which  induced  Fox 
and  Burke  to  ally  themselves  with  a  discredited  and  de- 
feated politician  like  Lord  North,  the  results  of  that 
alliance  were  as  unsatisfactory  to  the  high  contracting 
parties  as  the  most  rigid  believer  in  poetic  justice  could 
desire.  The  Coalition  ^Ministry  was  unlucky  enough  in  its 
enterprises  to  satisfy  (rcorge  himself,  who  had  talked  of 
going  back  to  Hanover  rather  than  accept  its  services,  and 
had  only  been  dissuaded  from  self -exile  by  the  sardonic 
reminder  of  Lord  Thurlow  that  it  might  be  easier  for  the 

1783.         LEGISLATION    OF    THE   COALITION    MINISTRY.  229 

King  to  go  to  Hanover  than  to  return  again  to  England. 
Burke  inaugurated  his  new  career  at  the  Pay  Office  by  an 
unhappy  act  of  patronage.  He  insisted  upon  restoring  to 
their  offices  two  clerks,  named  Powell  and  Bembridge,  who 
had  been  removed  and  arraigned  for  malversation,  and  he 
insisted  upon  defendiug  his  indefensible  action  in  the 
House  of  Commons  with  a  fury  that  was  as  diverting  to 
his  opponents  as  it  was  distracting  to  his  colleagues.  Fox, 
who  had  earned  so  large  a  share  of  public  admiration  for 
his  advocacy  of  what  now  would  be  called  liberal  opinions, 
was  naturally  held  responsible  by  the  public  for  the  suc- 
cessful opposition  of  the  Coalition  Ministry  to  Pitt's  plan 
of  Parliamentary  reform. 

Pitt's  proposal  was  not  very  magnificent.  He  asked  the 
House  to  declare  that  measures  were  highly  necessary  to 
be  taken  for  the  future  prevention  of  bribery  and  expense 
at  elections.  He  urged  that  for  the  future,  when  the  ma- 
jority of  voters  for  any  borough  should  be  convicted  of 
gross  and  notorious  corruption  before  a  select  committee 
of  the  House  appointed  to  try  the  merits  of  any  election, 
such  borough  should  be  disfranchised  and  the  minority  of 
voters  not  so  convicted  should  be  entitled  to  vote  for  the 
county  in  which  such  borough  should  be  situated.  He 
suggested  that  an  addition  of  knights  of  the  shire  and  of 
the  representatives  of  the  metropolis  should  be  made  to 
the  state  of  the  representation.  He  left  the  number  to 
the  discussion  and  consideration  of  the  House,  but  for  his 
own  part  he  stated  that  he  should  propose  an  addition  of 
one  hundred  representatives.  Pitt's  scheme  was  scarcely 
a  splendid  measure  of  reform ;  but  at  least  it  was  a  measure 
of  reform,  and  it  met  with  small  mercy  at  the  hands  of 
the  coalition,  being  defeated  by  a  majority  of  293  to  149. 
This  was  not  an  auspicious  beginning  for  the  new  Minis- 
try, and  it  was  scarcely  surprising  that  many  of  Fox's  ad- 
herents in  the  country  should  resent  his  employment  of 
the  swollen  forces  that  were  practically  if  not  technically 
under  his  command  to  compass  the  defeat  of  a  bill  which, 
however  inadequate,  did  at  least  endeavor  to  bring  about 
a  much-needed  improvement. 

230  A   HISTORY   OF   THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  ltii. 

The  groat  adventure  of  the  Coalition  Ministry,  the 
deed  by  which  it  hojoed  to  Justify  its  existence,  and  by 
wliieh  indeed  it  has  earned  its  only  honorable  title  to  re- 
membrance, was  the  bill  which  is  known  to  the  world  as 
Fox's  India  Bill.  If  the  extending  influence  of  England 
in  India  was  a  source  of  pride  to  the  English  people,  it 
was  also  a  source  of  grave  responsibility.  The  conditions 
under  which  that  influence  was  exercised,  the  weaknesses 
and  inadequacies  of  the  system  by  which  the  East  India 
Company  exercised  its  semi-regal  authority,  were  becoming 
more  apparent  with  every  succeeding  year  to  the  small  but 
steadily  increasing  number  of  persons  who  took  a  serious 
and  intelligent  interest  in  Indian  affairs.  A  series  of 
events,  to  be  referred  to  later,  had  served  to  force  into  a 
special  prominence  the  ditTiculties  and  the  dangers  of  the 
existing  state  of  affairs  and  to  fasten  the  attention  of 
thinkers  upon  the  evils  that  had  resulted,  and  the  evils 
that  must  yet  result  from  its  continuance.  To  mitigate 
those  evils  in  the  present,  and  to  minimize  them  in  the 
future.  Fox,  inspired  and  aided  by  Burke's  splendid  knowl- 
edge of  Indian  affairs,  worked  out  a  measure  which  was 
confidently  expected  to  substitute  order  for  disorder  and 
reason  for  unreason.  In  the  November  of  1783,  Pitt  ad- 
dressed a  challenge  to  the  Ministry  calling  upon  them  to 
bring  forward  some  measure  securing  and  improving  the 
advantages  to  be  derived  from  England's  Eastern  posses- 
sions, some  measure  not  of  temporary  palliation  and 
timorous  expedients,  but  vigorous  and  effectual,  suited  to 
the  magnitude,  the  importance,  and  the  alarming  exigen- 
cies of  the  case.  Fox  answered  this  challenge  by  asking 
leave  to  bring  in  a  bill  "  for  vesting  the  affairs  of  the  East 
India  Company  in  the  hands  of  certain  commissioners  for 
the  benefit  of  the  proprietors  and  the  public."  At  the  same 
time  Fox  asked  leave  to  bring  in  another  bill  "  for  the  bet- 
ter government  of  the  territorial  possessions  and  depen- 
dencies in  India."  These  two  bills,  supplementing  each 
other,  formed,  in  the  opinion  of  those  who  framed  and 
who  advocated  them,  a  simple,  efficient,  and  responsible 
plan  for  the  better  administration  of  England's  Indian  de- 

1783.  FOX   AND   THE   AFFAIRS   OF   INDIA.  231 

pendencies.  However  tentative  and  incomplete  they  may 
now  appear  as  a  means  of  dealing  with  a  problem  of  such 
vast  importance  and  such  far-reaching  consequences^  they 
certainly  were  measures  the  adoption  of  which  must  have 
proved  a  gain  to  the  country  governing  and  to  the  country 

The  measures,  which,  it  is  probable,  were  originally 
planned  out  by  Burke,  but  to  which  it  is  certain  that  Fox 
devoted  all  the  strength  of  his  intellect  and  all  the  en- 
thusiasm of  his  nature,  were  of  a  daring  and  comprehen- 
sive character.  The  first  proposed  to  make  a  clean  sweep  of 
the  existing  state  of  things  in  India  by  the  appointment  of 
a  Board  composed  of  seven  commissioners  to  whom  abso- 
lute authority  over  the  East  India  Company's  property,  and 
over  the  appointment  or  removal  of  holders  of  offices  in 
India,  was  to  be  intrusted  for  a  term  of  four  years.  This 
term  of  four  years  was  not  to  be  affected  by  any  changes 
of  administration  that  might  occur  in  England  during  the 
time.  The  commerce  of  the  Company  was  to  be  managed 
by  a  council  of  directors,  who  were  themselves  entirely 
under  the  control  of  the  seven  commissioners.  The  com- 
missioners and  the  directors  were  required  to  lay  their 
accounts  before  the  proprietors  every  six  months,  and  be- 
fore both  Houses  at  the  beginning  of  every  session.  The 
commissioners  were  in  the  first  instance  to  be  appointed  by 
Parliament,  that  is  to  say,  by  the  Ministry  headed  by  Fox 
and  Xorth ;  at  the  end  of  the  four  vears  thev  were  to  be 
appointed  by  the  Crown.  The  Court  of  Proprietors  was 
to  fill  up  the  vacancies  in  the  council  of  directors.  The 
second  and  less  important  measure  dealt  with  the  powers 
of  the  Governor-General  and  Council  and  the  conduct  to 
be  observed  towards  the  princes  and  natives  of  India. 

The  first  measure  was  the  measure  of  paramount  impor- 
tance, the  measure  from  which  Fox  and  his  friends  hoped 
so  much,  the  measure  which  aroused  in  a  very  peculiar 
degree  the  anger  of  the  King  and  of  the  King's  fol- 
lowers. They  saw  in  a  moment  the  enormous  influence 
that  the  passing  of  the  measure  would  place  in  the  hands 
of  Fox.    The  names  of  the  commissioners  were  left  blank 

232  A  HISTORY   OF   THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lvii. 

in  the  bill,  but  when  their  time  came  to  be  filled  up  in 
committee  they  were  all  filled  with  the  names  of  followers 
of  Fox.  It  was  argued  that  were  the  bill  to  become  law 
a  set  of  persons  extremely  olmoxious  to  the  King  would 
have  in  their  hands  for  a  solid  term  of  vears  the  entire 
administration  of  India  and  the  control  of  an  amount  of 
patronage,  estimated  at  not  less  than  three  hundred  thou- 
sand a  year.  This  would  enable  them  to  oppose  to  the 
royal  prerogative  of  patronage  an  influence  of  like  nature 
that  brought  with  it  scarcely  less  than  royal  power.  It  is 
scarcely  surprising  that  Pitt  should  have  employed  all  his 
eloquence  and  all  his  energy  against  what  he  described  as 
"  the  boldest  and  most  unconstitutional  measure  ever  at- 
tempted, transferring  at  one  stroke,  in  spite  of  all  charters 
and  compacts,  the  immense  patronage  and  influence  of  the 
East  to  Charles  Fox  in  or  out  of  office." 

If  Pitt  was  the  most  conspicuous  opponent  of  the  India 
Bills,  only  less  conspicuous  was  a  man  who,  though  much 
Pitt's  senior,  was  still  young,  and  who  had  already  made 
himself  prominent  in  the  House  of  Commons,  not  merely 
as  a  politician  of  general  ability,  but  as  one  w^ho  took  a 
special  interest  in  the  affairs  of  India.  Henry  Dundas  had 
been  a  characteristic  ornament  of  the  Scottish  bar,  at  once 
a  skilful  lawj^er  and  an  attractive  man  of  the  w^orld  when, 
eight  years  before  the  existence  of  the  Coalition  Ministry, 
he  had  come  to  St.  Stephen's  as  Lord  Advocate.  An  am- 
bition to  shine  as  a  statesman  and  an  extraordinary  power 
of  application  had  equipped  him  with  the  varied  informa- 
tion that  enabled  him  to  assert  himself  as  an  authority  in 
many  departments  of  national  business.  He  had  early 
recognized  the  importance  of  India  as  a  field  for  the  powers 
of  a  rising  politician,  and  he  had  devoted  to  India  and  to 
Indian  affairs  that  tireless  assiduity  which  permitted  him 
at  once  to  appear  a  convivial  spirit  with  the  temperament 
and  leisure  of  a  man  of  pleasure,  and  a  master  of  pro- 
found and  intricate  subjects,  the  secret  of  which  was  only 
known  to  those  who  were  acquainted  with  his  habit  of  early 
rising  and  his  indefatigable  capacity  for  work  in  the  time 
that  he  allotted  to  work.    When  the  public  attention  was 


directed  to  India,  towards  the  close  of  the  American  war, 
and  when  a  very  general  sense  of  indignation  was  aroused 
by  the  mismanagement  that  lessened  and  that  threatened 
to  destroy  British  influence  in  the  East,  Dundas  came  for- 
ward with  the  confident  air  of  one  who  was  intimately  ac- 
quainted with  the  complicat(xl  problem  and  who  believed 
himself  perfectly  competent  to  set  all  difficulties  right.  He 
was  the  chairman  of  the  select  committee  of  the  House  of 
Commons  appointed  to  inquire  into  the  causes  of  the  war 
in  the  Carnatic,  and  he  impressed  himself  upon  the  House 
as  an  authority  upon  India  of  no  mean  order,  both  in  the 
report  from  that  committee  and  in  a  bill  which  he  himself 
introduced  for  the  purpose  of  dealing  with  the  Indian 
question.  He  did  not  succeed  in  carrying  his  measure, 
but  he  took  care  that  his  knowledge  of  his  subject  increased 
in  proportion  to  its  growing  importance  in  the  public 
view,  and  his  ready  eloquence  and  specious  show  of  infor- 
mation made  him  a  very  valuable  ally  for  Pitt  and  a  fairly 
formidable  opponent  to  Fox  in  the  heady  debates  over  the 
measures  to  which  the  political  honor  of  the  dishonorable 
coalition  was  pledged. 

The  India  Bill  had  a  more  serious  enemy  than  Dundas, 
a  more  serious  enemy  than  Pitt  so  far  as  the  immediate 
effect  of  enmity  upon  public  opinion  is  to  be  estimated. 
There  was  an  attorney  in  London  named  James  Sayer 
whose  private  means  enabled  him  to  neglect  his  profession 
and  devote  himself  to  the  production  of  political  carica- 
tures and  squibs.  Sayer  was  one  of  the  many  who  be- 
lieved in  the  rising  star  of  Pitt,  and  he  proved  his  belief 
by  the  publication  of  a  caricature  which  Fox  himself  is 
said  to  have  admitted  gave  the  India  Bill  its  severest  blow 
in  public  estimation.  This  caricature  was  called  "  Carlo 
Khan^s  Triumphal  Entry  into  Leadenhall  Street."  It 
represented  Fox  in  the  grotesque  attire  of  a  theatrical 
Oriental  potentate,  and  with  a  smile  of  conquest  upon  his 
black-haired  face,  perched  upon  an  elephant  with  the 
staring  countenance  of  Lord  iSTorth,  that  was  led  by  Burke, 
whose  spectacled  acridity  was  swollen  with  the  blowing  of 
a  trumpet  from  which  depended  a  map  of  India.     The 

234  A   UlSTOKV    UF   THE   FOLK   GEORGES.  ch.  lvii. 

caricature  was  ingenious,  timely,  and  extraordinarily  ef- 
ficacious in  harming  the  measure  and  its  champions.  It 
had  an  enormous  sale ;  it  was  imitated  and  pirated  far  and 
wide.  It  carried  to  all  parts  of  the  kingdom  the  convic- 
tion that  Fox  was  aiming  at  nothing  less  than  a  dictator- 
ship of  India,  and  it  intensified  the  general  animosity 
towards  the  measures  and  the  men  of  the  Coalition  Min- 
istry more  effectively  tlian  any  amount  of  speeches  in 
Westminster  could  have  done.  But  it  had  no  more  power 
to  weaken  the  solid  majority  of  the  ^linistry  in  the  House 
of  Commons  than  the  hurried  erudition  of  Dundas,  or  than 
what  Walpole  called  the  "  Bristol  stone "  of  Pitt's  elo- 
quence as  contrasted  with  the  "  diamond  reason ''  of  Fox's 
solid  sense.  Neither  political  caricature  nor  popular  dis- 
approval, neither  the  indignation  of  the  King  nor  the 
opulence  of  the  fearful  and  furious  East  India  Company, 
could  prevent  Fox  from  carrying  his  measures  in  the  House 
of  Commons  by  means  of  the  sheer  force  of  numbers  that 
he  had  obtained  by  his  unhallowed  compact  with  North. 

But  the  power  of  the  new  Ministry  was  vulnerable  in 
another  place  where  the  most  unconstitutional  weapons 
were  employed  against  it.  The  King  was  eager  to  avenge 
the  affront  that  had,  as  he  conceived,  been  put  upon  him 
by  the  compulsion  that  had  forced  him  to  accept  ministers 
so  little  to  his  taste.  He  was  prepared  to  stick  at  little  in 
order  to  retaliate  upon  his  enemies,  as  he  alwaj^s  conceived 
those  men  to  be  who  ventured  to  cross  his  purposes.  Noth- 
ing could  be  done  effectively  to  change  the  political  com- 
position of  the  Lower  House;  something  could  be  essayed 
with  the  reasonable  hope  of  modifying  the  composition  of 
the  Upper  House.  Lord  Temple,  a  second-rate  statesman, 
v\'hose  position  gave  him  almost  first-rate  importance,  was 
the  instrument  by  which  the  King  was  able  to  bring  very 
effective  pressure  upon  the  peers.  George  wrote  a  letter 
to  Lord  Temple  in  which  he  declared  that  he  should  deem 
those  who  should  vote  for  Fox's  measure  as  "  not  only  not 
his  friends,  but  his  enemies;"  and  he  added  that  if  Lord 
Temple  could  put  this  in  stronger  w^ords  "  he  had  full  au- 
thority to  do  so."     With  this  amazing  document  in  his 


possession  Lord  Temple  went  from  one  noble  lord  to 
another^  pointing  out  the  unwisdom  of  each  in  pursuing 
a  course  which  v/ould  constitute  him  an  avowed  enemy  of 
the  King,  and  insisting  upon  the  advantages  that  must 
follow  from  the  taking  of  the  very  broad  hint  of  the  royal 
pleasure  thus  conveyed.  Temple's  arguments,  backed  by 
and  founded  upon  the  King's  letter,  had  the  most  satis- 
factory result  from  the  King's  point  of  view.  Peer  after 
peer  fell  away  from  the  doomed  Ministry;  peer  after  peer 
hastened  to  prove  himself  one  of  the  elect,  to  assert  him- 
self as  a  King's  friend  by  recording  his  vote  against  the 
obnoxious  measure. 

The  course  of  action  inspired  by  the  King  and  acted 
upon  by  Lord  Temple  was  flagrantly  unconstitutional  even 
in  an  age  which  permitted  to  the  sovereign  so  much  liberty 
of  personal  intervention  in  affairs.  It  was,  however,  at- 
tended with  complete  success.  The  India  Bills  were  re- 
jected in  the  House  of  Lords  by  a  majority  of  nineteen, 
and  tliis  defeat,  which  would  not  have  been  regarded  in 
more  recent  times  as  fatal  to  a  Ministry,  however  fatal  for 
the  time  being  to  the  measure  thus  condemned,  was  in- 
stantly used  by  the  King  as  a  pretext  for  ridding  himself 
of  the  advisers  whose  advice  he  detested.  The  King  re- 
solved to  dismiss  the  ministers,  and  to  dismiss  them  with 
every  circumstance  of  indignity  that  should  render  their 
dismissal  the  more  contemptuous.  On  the  midnight  of 
the  day  following  the  final  defeat  of  the  measure  in  the 
House  of  Lords  a  messenger  delivered  to  the  two  Secre- 
taries of  State,  Fox  and  ISTorth,  a  message  from  the  King 
stating  that  it  was  his  IMajesty's  will  and  pleasure  that 
they  should  deliver  to  him  the  seals  of  their  respective 
offices,  and  that  they  should  send  them  b}^  the  Under-Sec- 
retaries, j\Ir.  Frazer  and  Mr.  ISTepean,  as  a  personal  inter- 
view on  the  occasion  would  be  disagreeable  to  the  King. 
The  seals  were  immediately  sent  to  Buckingham  House 
and  were  promptly  handed  over  by  the  King  to  Lord  Tem- 
ple, who  on  the  following  day  sent  letters  of  dismissal  to 
the  other  members  of  the  Cabinet  Council. 

When  the  House  of  Commons  met,  under  conditions  of 

23G  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lvii. 

keen  excitement,  Fox  and  Xorth  took  their  seats  on  the 
Front  Opposition  Bench  with  their  vast  majority  behind 
them  eager  to  retaliate  upon  the  King,  who  had  defied 
their  voices  and  insulted  their  leaders.  A  young  member, 
Mr.  Kichard  Pepper  Arden,  rose  in  his  place  and  moved 
a  new  writ  for  the  borough  of  Appleby,  in  the  room  of  the 
Right  Honorable  William  Pitt,  who  had  accepted  the 
ollice  of  First  Lord  of  the  Treasury  and  Chancellor  of  the 
Exchequer.  We  are  told  that  this  motion  was  received 
with  loud  and  general  laughter  by  the  Opposition,  who  re- 
garded Pitt's  conduct  as  a  piece  of  foolhardy  presumption. 
And  indeed  at  first  Pitt's  position  seemed  difficult  in  the 
extreme.  It  was  hard  to  form  a  Government  in  the  face 
of  a  hostile  majority  in  the  Commons,  and  in  the  Lords 
Pitt's  perplexity  was  increased  by  Lord  Temple's  sudden 
and  sullen  resignation  of  the  office  to  which  he  had  been 
so  newly  appointed.  Various  reasons  have  been  given  for 
Temple's  mysterious  and  petulant  behavior.  Some  have 
thought  that  he  resigned  because  he  was  in  favor  of  an 
immediate  dissolution,  while  Pitt  w^as  opposed  to  such  a 
step.  Others  believe  that  he  was  eager  for  some  high  mark 
of  royal  favor,  possibly  a  dukedom,  which  was  refused  by 
the  King  and  not  warmly  advocated  by  Pitt.  In  spite  of 
all  obstacles,  however,  Pitt  succeeded  in  forming  a  Min- 
istry, the  best  he  could  manage  under  the  conditions.  To 
Shelburne  he  offered  nothing,  and  this  omission  adds  a 
mystery  greater  than  that  of  Temple's  resignation  to  Pitt's 
administration.  It  must  have  surprised  Shelburne,  as  it 
surprised  every  observer  then  and  since.  Pitt  has  been 
accused  of  ingratitude  to  the  man  w^ho  had  been  his 
father's  friend  and  to  whom  he  himself  had  owed  so  short 
a  time  before  the  leadership  of  the  House  of  Commons. 
But  Pitt  was  not  ungrateful.  He  was  merely  astute.  He 
read  Shelburne  as  perhaps  no  other  of  his  contemporaries 
was  able  to  read  him,  and  he  gauged  him  at  his  true  value 
or  want  of  value.  Shelburne's  glittering  unreality,  his 
showy  unreliability,  were  to  have  no  place  in  Pitt's  scheme 
of  things.  Abandoned  by  Temple,  abandoning  Shelburne, 
Pitt  went  his  own  way,  doing  the  best  he  could  in  the  face 

1784.        THE  DISAPPEARANCE   OF   THE   GREAT  SEAL.  237 

of  tremendous  odds  and  doing  it  very  well.  One  of  his 
first  acts  of  office  was  to  bring  in  an  India  Bill  of  his  own, 
which  was  decisively  defeated  in  the  Commons.  For  some 
months  Pitt  fought  his  hard  and  thankless  fight  as  a 
minister  with  a  minority  behind  him.  At  last,  in  the  end 
of  March,  he  saw  his  opportunity  for  a  dissolution  and  re- 
solved to  take  it.  A  singular  episode  threatened  to  delay 
his  purpose.  The  Great  Seal  of  England  was  stolen  from 
the  house  of  the  Lord  Chancellor  in  Great  Ormond  Street, 
and  was  never  recovered.  It  may  have  been  purloined  by 
some  political  partisan  who  believed,  as  James  the  Second 
believed,  that  by  making  away  with  the  Great  Seal  he  could 
effectively  embarrass  his  opponents.  But  this  "  curious 
manoeuvre,'^  as  Pitt  himself  called  it,  was  nullified  by  the 
prompitude  with  which  another  Great  Seal  was  made. 

The  result  of  the  dissolution  was  as  gratifying  to  Pitt 
as  it  was  disastrous  to  Fox.  More  than  one  hundred  and 
sixty  of  Fox's  friends  lost  their  seats  and  earned  instead 
the  sobriquet  of  Fox's  Mart3TS,  and  Fox  himself  had  very 
great  difficulty  in  getting  elected  for  the  new  Parliament. 
So  ended  the  unfortunate  episode  of  the  Coalition  Minis- 
try. Much  as  Fox  had  suffered  from  the  sins  of  youth,  he 
was  destined  to  suff'er  even  more  from  this  error  of  his 
manhood.  For  the  rest  of  his  life,  save  for  a  few  months 
towards  its  close,  he  was  destined  to  remain  out  of  office, 
conscious  of  the  great  deeds  he  would  have  done  and  denied 
the  power  to  do  them,  while  his  antagonist  Pitt  lived 
through  long  years  of  office,  long  years  that  were  as  event- 
ful as  any  years  and  more  eventful  than  most  years  in  the 
history  of  the  country.  Fox  had  run  up  a  great  debt  for 
a  little  power.  He  had  paltered  with  his  honor,  with  his 
principles,  with  his  public  utterances;  he  had  staked  more 
than  he  had  a  right  to  stake  on  success,  and  he  had  lost, 
utterly  and  hopelessly.  If  every  error  in  life  has  to  be 
paid  for  sooner  or  later,  the  price  due  from  Fox  for  his 
apostasy  was  very  promptly  demanded  and  was  very  heavy. 

It  is  to  be  regretted  that  Pitt  began  his  long  period  of 
authority  by  an  attempt  as  stubborn  as  it  was  ungenerous 
to  keep  his  great  rival  out  of  public  life.    The  election  for 

238  A    HISTORV    OF   THE   FUUK   CEORGES.  cii.  lvii. 

P'ox's  constituency  of  Westminster  was  one  of  the  fiercest 
conflicts  in  English  histor}'.  Every  effort  was  made  to 
drive  Fox  out,  every  effort  to  put  him  in.  Beautiful  wom- 
en— wliom  I'itt  described  as  "  women  of  the  people/'  in 
parody  of  the  name  they  gave  to  Fox  of  "  the  man  of  the 
l)cople  " — bribed  voters  with  kisses,  while  the  friends  of 
Pitt  rallied  every  man  they  could  muster  to  the  polling 
booths.  Fox  was  returned,  but  the  unconstitutional  con- 
duct of  the  High  Bailiff  in  granting  the  request  of  the 
defeated  candidate,  Sir  Cecil  Wray,  for  a  scrutin}',  and  in 
refusing  to  make  a  return  till  the  scrutiny  was  effected, 
might  have  deprived  Westminster  for  a  season  of  any 
Parliamentary  representation,  and  w^ould  have  kept  Fox 
out  of  Parliament  altogether  if  he  had  not  been  returned 
for  the  Kirkwall  Borough  through  the  friendship  of  Sir 
Thomas  Dundas.  Pitt  unfortunately  backed  up  the  action 
of  the  High  Bailiff  with  a  vehemence  of  zeal  that  suggested 
rancor,  and  that  failed  of  its  purpose.  Fox  was  in  the 
Commons  to  defend  himself  and  his  cause,  and  he  did  de- 
fend himself  with  an  eloquence  that  even  he  never  sur- 
passed, and  that  gave  its  additional  glory  to  its  ultimate 

However  the  generosity  or  the  taste  of  Pitt's  conduct 
towards  Fox  in  this  instance  might  be  questioned,  there 
could  be  no  question  as  to  the  rare  ability  he  soon  made 
proof  of  as  a  statesman  and  as  a  financier.  During  his  few 
and  troubled  months  of  office  before  the  dissolution,  he  had 
introduced  an  India  Bill  to  take  the  place  of  that  of  Fox, 
which  the  King  and  the  Lords  had  shattered.  This  Bill 
had  been  defeated  by  a  majority  of  eight.  He  now  intro- 
duced what  was  practically  the  same  measure,  and  carried 
it  triumphantly  by  a  majority  of  more  than  two  hundred. 
It  established  that  Board  of  Control  and  that  double  sys- 
tem of  government  which  existed,  with  some  modifications, 
until  the  Act  of  1858,  following  upon  the  Indian  Mutiny, 
effected  a  radical  revolution  in  the  administration  of  In- 
dia. The  enemies  of  Pitt's  measure  declared  that  its  abuse 
of  patronage  was  as  flagrant  as  and  more  enduring  than 
that  proposed  by  Fox,  and  for  a  long  time  public  discon- 

1784.  FITT   AS  A  FINANCIER.  239 

tent  expressed  itself  loudly  against  the  extreme  favor  that 
was  shown  to  Scotchmen  in  the  filling  up  of  appointments. 
The  financial  affairs  of  the  country  called  for  a  bold 
hand  and  found  it.  Lord  North  had  muddled  the  finances 
of  England  almost  as  completely  and  almost  as  hopeless- 
ly as  contemporary  French  financiers  were  muddling  the 
finances  of  France.  Pitt  faced  something  that  w^as  not 
altogether  unlike  financial  chaos  with  a  courage  which  was 
well  and  with  a  genius  which  was  better.  The  picturesque 
institution  of  smuggling,  capitalized  by  wealth  and  rank 
in  London,  and  profitably  employing  some  forty  thousand 
adventurous  spirits,  withered  before  the  spell  of  Pitt's 
dexterous  manipulations.  A  window  tax  compensated  for 
a  lightened  tea  duty  that  made  smuggling  merely  a  ridicu- 
lous waste  of  time,  and  its  most  sinister  effect  may  still 
be  noticed  here  and  there  in  England  in  the  hideous  imita- 
tions of  windows  painted  on  to  the  walls  of  houses  to  sup- 
port a  grotesque  idea  of  harmony,  without  incurring  the 
expense  of  an  actual  aperture  for  light  and  air.  Pitt 
raised  the  loans  necessary  to  meet  the  yawning  deficit  and 
to  minimize  the  floating  debt,  and  he  astonished  his  world 
by  introducing  the  amazing  elements  of  absolute  honesty 
and  admirable  publicity  into  the  transaction.  The  prin- 
ciple of  patronage  that  had  made  previous  loans  a  scan- 
dalous source  of  corruption  was  gallantly  thrown  overboard. 
and  the  new  minister  announced  to  the  general  amazement 
that  the  new  loans  would  be  contracted  for  with  those  who 
ofiered  the  lowest  terms  in  public  competition.  A  glitter- 
ing variety  of  new  taxes,  handled  with  the  dexterity  of  a 
conjuror,  and  extracting  sources  of  revenue  from  sources 
untaxed  and  very  justifiably  taxable,  rounded  off  a  series 
of  financial  proposals  that  inaugurated  brilliantly  his  ad- 
ministration, and  that  had  their  abiding  effect  upon  the 
welfare  of  the  countrv.  The  crown  of  his  financial  fame 
was  his  plan  for  the  redemption  of  the  National  Debt  in- 
troduced in  178G.  His  plan  was  based  on  the  compara- 
tively familiar  idea  of  a  sinking  fund.  Up  to  the  time  of 
Pitt's  proposal,  however,  such  sinking  fund  as  might  exist 
in  a  time  of  peace  wap  always  liable  to  be  taken  over  and 

240  A   IIISTORV   OF  TUE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lvii. 

made  use  of  by  the  Government  in  a  time  of  war.  Pitt's 
plan  was  to  form  a  sinking  fund  which  should  be  made 
inalienable  by  an  Act  of  Parliament  until  the  Act  creating 
11  should  be  repealed  by  another  Act  of  Parliament.  For 
this  purpose  Pitt  created  a  Board  of  Commissioners  con- 
sisting of  the  Speaker,  the  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer, 
the  Master  of  the  Rolls,  the  Accountant-General,  and  the 
Governor  and  Deputy-Governor  of  the  Bank  of  England. 
To  this  independent  and  distinguished  body  of  men  the 
sum  of  one  million  sterling  was  to  be  handed  over  annu- 
ally for  the  gradual  redemption  of  the  existing  debt  by  the 
purchase  of  stock. 

The  story  of  Pitt's  early  administration  was  not  all  a 
record  of  success.  For  the  last  time,  and  unsuccessfully, 
he  attempted  to  bring  about  a  Parliamentary  reform.  For 
the  first  time,  and  no  less  unsuccessfully,  he  tried  to  bring 
about  that  better  understanding  between  England  and  Ire- 
land which  it  was  his  merit  always  to  desire,  and  his  mis- 
fortune never  to  accomplish.  In  spite  of  his  genius,  his 
eloquence,  and  his  popularity,  his  position  in  the  House 
of  Commons  was  in  a  sense  precarious.  It  was  not  merely 
that  he  had  the  bad  luck  to  be  opposed  by  such  a  galaxy 
of  ability  as  has  perhaps  never  before  or  since  dazzled 
from  the  benches  of  Opposition  the  e3'es  of  any  minister  of 
Pitt's  intellectual  power.  To  be  fought  against  relentless- 
ly, tirelessly,  by  a  Sheridan,  a  Burke,  and  a  Fox  would  have 
been  bad  enough  for  a  statesman  at  the  head  of  a  large  and 
reliable  majority  and  enjoying  the  uncheckered  confidence 
of  his  sovereign.  But  Pitt  did  not  enjoy  the  uncheckered 
confidence  of  the  King,  and  Pitt's  majority  was  not  re- 
liable. Lord  Rosebery  quotes  an  analysis  of  the  House 
of  Commons  dated  May  1,  1788,  recently  discovered  among 
the  papers  of  one  of  Pitt's  private  secretaries,  which  serves 
to  show  how  uncertain  Pitt's  position  was,  and  how  fluctu- 
ating the  elements  upon  which  he  had  to  depend  for  his 
political  existence.  In  this  document  the  "  Party  of  the 
Crown  " — an  ominous  term — is  set  down  as  consisting  of 
185  members,  including  "  all  those  who  would  probably 
support  his  Majesty's  Government  under  any  minister  not 


peculiarly  unpopular."  Xo  less  than  108  members  are 
set  down  as  ""' independent  or  unconnected;"  the  party 
ascribed  to  Fox  musters  138,  while  that  of  Pitt  is  only 
estimated  at  52,  with  the  minimizing  comment  that  "  of 
this  party,  were  there  a  new  Parliament,  and  Mr.  P.  no 
longer  to  continue  minister,  not  above  twenty  would  be 
returned  "  In  the  face  of  difficulties  like  these  Pitt  stood 
practically  alone.  His  was  no  Ministry  "  of  All  the  Tal- 
ents;" the  ranks  of  the  ^linistry  did  not  represent,  even  in 
a  lesser  degree,  the  rich  variety  of  ability  that  made  the 
Opposition  so  formidable. 

If  the  King  was  at  best  but  a  lukewarm  supporter  of  his 
splendid  minister,  the  heir  to  the  throne  was  the  minis- 
ter's very  warm  and  persistent  enemy.  \Yhen  Pitt  came 
to  power  the  Prince  of  \Vales  was,  and  had  been  for  some 
time,  a  conspicuous  figure  in  society,  a  fitful  element  in 
political  life,  and  a  subject  of  considerable  scandal  to  the 
public  mind.  George  the  Third  was  not  the  kind  of  man  to 
be  happy  with  or  to  bring  happiness  to  his  children.  Pos- 
sessed of  many  of  those  virtues  which  are  supposed  to 
make  for  domestic  peace,  he  nevertheless  failed  signally 
to  attach  to  himself  the  affection  of  his  children.  One 
and  all,  they  left  him  as  soon  as  they  could,  came  back  to 
him  as  seldom  as  they  could.  The  King's  idea  of  firmness 
was  alw^ays  a  more  or  less  aggravated  form  of  tyranny,  and 
he  reaped  in  loneliness  the  harvest  of  his  early  harshness. 
Between  his  eldest  son  and  himself  there  soon  arose  and 
long  continued  that  feud  between  the  reigning  sovereign 
and  his  heir  which  seemed  traditional  in  the  House  of 

George  Augustus  Frederick,  Prince  of  Wales,  has  many 
claims  to  be  regarded  as  perhaps  the  worst,  and  as  certainly 
the  most  worthless,  prince  of  his  House.  Something  was 
to  be  excused  in  the  son  of  such  a  father;  some  wild  oats 
were  surely  to  be  so'wn  in  the  soil  of  a  childhood  so  dully 
and  so  sourly  cultivated.  But  no  severity  of  early  sur- 
roundings will  explain  or  palliate  the  unlovely  mixture 
of  folly  and  of  falseness,  of  debauchery,  vulgarity,  prof- 
ligacy, and  baseness,  which  were  the  most  conspicuous 

242  A   HISTORY   OF   TUE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lvii. 

characteristics  of  tlio  Prince's  nature.  The  malignant 
cneniy  of  his  unhappy  father,  the  treacherous  lover,  the 
perjured  friend,  a  heartless  fop,  a  soulless  sot,  the  most 
ungentlemanly  First  Gentleman  of  Europe,  his  memory 
baffles  the  efforts  of  the  sycophant  and  paralyzes  the  anger 
of  the  satirist.  Genius  has  wasted  itself  again  and  again 
in  the  attempt  fittingly  to  describe  him.  To  Byron  he 
became  "  the  fourth  of  the  fools  and  oppressors  called 
George."  Moore  immortalized  his  "nothingness"  as  a 
"  sick  epicure's  dream,  incoherent  and  gross."  Leigh  Hunt 
went  to  prison  for  calling  him  a  "  fat  Adonis  of  fifty." 
Landor,  in  an  epigram  on  himself  and  his  royal  name- 
sakes as  bitter  as  four  biting  lines  could  be,  could  find 
nothing  more  bitter  than  to  record  his  descent  from  earth, 
and  thankfulness  to  Heaven  that  with  him  the  Georges 
had  come  to  an  end.  Thackeray  abandoned  in  despair  the 
task  of  doing  justice  to  his  existence.  "  I  own  I  once  used 
to  think  it  would  be  good  sport  to  pursue  him,  fasten  on 
him,  and  pull  him  down.  But  now  I  am  ashamed  to  mount 
and  lay  good  dogs  on,  to  summon  a  full  field,  and  then  to 
hunt  the  poor  game." 

When  Pitt  became  Prime  Minister  the  Prince  of  Wales 
was  in  Opposition,  because  he  was  opposed  to  his  father. 
He  imagined  himself  to  be  the  friend  of  Fox,  of  Sheridan, 
of  Burke,  because  Fox  and  Sheridan  and  Burke  were  un- 
popular with  the  King.  His  career  had  been  one  of  debt 
and  drunkenness,  of  mean  amours  and  degrading  pleas- 
ures, when  the  son  of  Chatham  passed  from  his  studious 
youth  to  the  control  of  the  destinies  of  England.  Pitt  was 
called  upon  and  refused  to  consent  to  a  Parliamentary 
appeal  to  the  King  for  the  payment  of  the  Prince's  debts. 
Pitt  could  feel  no  courtier's  sympathy  for  the  unnatural 
son,  for  the  faithless  Florizel  of  foolish  Perdita  Robinson, 
for  the  perjured  husband  of  Mrs.  Fitzherbert.  There  can 
be  no  doubt  that  in  the  December  of  1785  the  Prince  of 
Wales  went  through  a  ceremony  of  marriage,  which  could 
not  under  the  conditions  constitute  a  legal  marriage,  with 
Mrs.  Fitzherbert,  a  beautiful  young  woman  of  a  little  more 
than  twenty-nine  years  of  age,  who  had  twice  been  widowed 

1788.  TALK   OF   A  REGENCY.  243 

and  was  a  member  of  the  Roman  Catholic  faith.  The 
town  soon  rang  with  gossip,  and  Avhat  was  gossip  in  the 
drawing-rooms  threatened  to  become  a  matter  for  "  deli- 
cate investigation  "  in  the  House  of  Commons.  The  denial 
given  by  Fox  in  Parliament  on  the  authority  of  the  Prince 
of  Wales  practically  ended  any  attempt  at  public  inquiry, 
and  almost  broke  the  heart  of  Mrs.  Fitzherbert.  To  her 
the  Prince  of  course  promptly  disavowed  Fox,  with  whom 
she  immediately  broke  off  all  friendship.  Fox  himself,  in- 
dignant at  the  Prince's  falsehood  and  at  the  base  use  which 
had  been  made  of  his  voice,  shunned  the  Prince's  society 
for  a  long  time,  which  might  very  well  have  been  longer. 
The  scandal  slowly  ebbed;  a  compromise  was  arrived  at 
between  the  King  and  his  son;  the  King  made  an  appeal 
to  Parliament;  and  a  sum  of  money  was  voted  to  deal  with 
the  Prince's  debts  in  consideration  of  his  promises  of  re- 
form in  the  future. 

The  Prince  of  Wales  did  not  forget  Pitt's  attitude  tow- 
ards him,  and  the  time  soon  arrived  in  which  the  min- 
ister came  near  to  feeling  the  force  of  the  Prince's  anger. 
The  health  of  the  King  was  suddenly  and  seriously  af- 
fected. Soon  after  his  reign  began  he  had  been  afflicted 
by  a  temporary  loss  of  reason.  The  same  misfortune  now 
fell  upon  him  in  the  autumn  of  1788.  It  became  neces- 
sary to  make  arrangements  for  the  appointment  of  a  re- 
gent, and  the  necessity  was  the  cause  of  a  fierce  Parlia- 
mentary controversy.  Fox  rashly  insisted  that  the  Prince 
of  Wales  had  as  much  right  to  assume  the  reins  of  gov- 
ernment as  he  would  have  had  in  the  case  of  the  death  of 
the  monarch.  Pitt  maintained  the  more  constitutional 
opinion  that  it  was  the  privilege  of  Parliament  to  appoint 
a  regent  and  to  decide  what  powers  should  be  intrusted 
to  him.  However  little  the  knowledge  may  have  influenced 
his  action,  Pitt  knew  very  well  that  with  the  appointment 
of  the  Prince  of  Wales  as  regent  his  own  hold  of  power 
would,  for  a  time,  come  to  an  end.  The  whole  question, 
however,  was  suddenly  set  on  one  side  by  the  unexpected 
recovery  of  the  King.  The  King's  restoration  to  reason 
was  well  for  the  minister,  and  undoubtedly  well  for  the 

244  A   HISTORY   OF  TUE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  Lvir. 

kingdom.  If  Biirkc  and  Sheridan  and  Fox  were  avowedly 
the  Prince's  friends  in  Parliament,  his  most  intimate 
friends,  those  who  would  be  likely  to  prove  influential  in 
his  mimic  Court,  were  men  of  a  very  different  kind.  These 
were  sucli  men  as  George  Hanger,  the  half-mad  soldier,  the 
"  Paragon  of  Debauchery,"  as  the  caricaturists  labelled 
the  Prince's  "  confidential  friend,"  who  having  been  almost 
everything  from  captain  of  Hessians  to  coal  merchant,  and 
from  recruiter  for  the  East  India  Company  to  inmate  of 
a  debtor's  prison,  ended  his  long  and  unlovely  career  by  de- 
clining to  assume  the  title  of  Lord  Coleraine,  to  which  he 
became  entitled  in  1814,  ten  years  before  his  death.  These 
were  such  men  as  Charles  Morris,  the  amiable  Anacreon  of 
Carlton  House,  who  made  better  punch  and  rhymed  better 
ballads  than  his  fellows  of  that  convivial  age,  and  who 
had  the  grace  to  expiate  the  ignoble  noonday  of  his  exist- 
ence by  an  honorable  evening.  These  were  such  men  as 
the  queer  gang  of  blackguards,  ruffians,  and  rowdies  who 
haunted  Brighthelmstone,  the  bad  and  brutal  Richard 
Barry,  the  "  Hellgate "  Lord  Barrymore ;  the  Jockey  of 
Norfolk,  with  his  hair  grown  gray  in  iniquities;  Sir  John 
Lade,  \\'hose  wife  had  been  the  mistress  of  a  highwayman ; 
and  the  worst  and  basest  spirit  of  the  gang,  the  Duke  of 
Queensberry.  Such  were  the  men  whom  the  Prince  de- 
lighted to  make  his  companions;  such  were  the  men  who, 
if  the'  King's  madness  had  persisted,  would  have  hailed 
with  satisfaction  the  overthrow  of  Mr.  Pitt. 

It  were  needless  to  dwell  further  for  the  present  upon  the 
adventures  of  the  Prince  of  Wales,  his  amours,  his  debts, 
his  friendships,  his  fantastic  pavilion  at  Brighton,  or  his 
unhappy  marriage  in  April,  1795,  to  his  cousin,  the  Prin- 
cess Caroline  Amelia  Elizabeth  of  Brunswick.  Twenty 
years  were  to  pass  away  before  the  recurrence  of  the  King's 
malady  was  to  give  his  eldest  son  the  show  of  power,  and 
in  those  twenty  years  the  two  political  rivals — one  of  whom 
was  the  greatest  of  his  allies,  and  the  other  the  greatest  of 
his  adversaries — had  passed  away. 

1782.  THE  BIRTH   OF  WARREN   HASTINGS.  245 



In  the  days  when  Clive  was  first  winning  his  way  to 
fame  in  India  there  was  another  young  Englishman  serv- 
ing John  Company,  whose  ability  attracted  the  notice  and 
gained  the  esteem  of  the  conqueror  of  Dupleix.  It  is  one 
of  the  privileges  of  genius  to  discern  the  genius  of  others. 
But  even  Clive,  when  he  noted  a  young  volunteer  at  Falta, 
who  seemed  destined  for  better  things  than  the  handling 
of  a  musket,  cannot  have  dreamed  that  he  was  giving  an 
opportunity  to  a  man  whose  name  was  to  take  as  high  a 
rank  in  the  history  of  India  as  his  own,  whose  deeds  were 
to  be  no  less  fiercely  battled  over,  whose  part  in  the  crea- 
tion of  a  great  Indian  Empire  was  to  be  as  illustrious. 
All  that  India  had  been  to  Clive — a  refuge,  a  battle- 
ground, a  theatre  of  great  deeds,  and  unfortunately  also 
of  great  ofi'ences,  the  cause  of  almost  unbearable  triumph 
and  almost  intolerable  humiliation,  all  that  in  as  great  a 
degree  India  was  to  be  to  Warren  Hastings. 

Warren  Hastings  was  born  in  the  December  of  1732,  in 
Churchill,  Oxfordshire,  near  Daylesford  in  Worcester- 
shire. His  family  had  been  a  good  as  it  was  an  old  family. 
But  it  had  come  down  in  the  world.  It  had  grown  poorer 
and  poorer  as  the  generations  rolled  on,  and  that  manor 
of  Davlesford  which  had  been  in  the  family  in  the  davs 
of  the  second  Henry  had  passed  in  the  year  of  Sheriffmuir 
into  the  hands  of  a  Gloucester  merchant.  When  Warren 
Hastings  was  born,  the  fortunes  of  the  house  had  come  to 
a  very  low  ebb  indeed.  Pynaston  Hastings,  Warren  Has- 
tings's father,  was,  perhaps,  as  imbecile  a  man  as  ever  yet 
was  the  means  of  bringing  an  illustrious  son  into  the 
world.    He  seems  to  have  been  weak,  foolish,  shiftless,  as 

240  A    IIISTUKV   OF  THE   FOUR  GEOUCES.  cii.  lviii. 

wortlik'ss  as  a  man  well  could  be  who  was  not  actually 
a  criminal.  He  had  married  very  young,  before  he  was 
sixteen;  his  wife  had  died  shortly  after  giving  birth  to 
A\'arren  Hastings.  Pynaston  nuirried  again,  entered  the 
( 'hurch,  when  he  was  old  enough  to  take  holy  orders,  and 
drifted  away  into  the  West  Indies  into  outer  darkness  and 
oblivion,  leaving  children  entirely  dependent  upon  the 
charity  of  relatives.  That  charity  did  not  fail,  though  at 
first  it  could  be  but  meagrely  extended.  Warren  Has- 
tings's grandfather  was  desperately  poor.  All  he  could  do 
for  his  deserted  grandchild  was  to  place  him  at  the  charity 
school  of  the  village.  There,  habited  almost  like  a  beggar, 
taught  as  a  beggar,  the  companion  of  clowns  and  playfel- 
low of  rustics,  the  future  peer  of  kings  and  ruler  of  rajahs, 
the  coming  pro-consul  who  was  yet  to  make  the  state  of 
England  as  imperial  as  the  state  of  Rome,  received  his 
earliest  lessons  in  the  facts  of  life,  and  dreamed  his  earliest 
dreams.  His  were  strange  dreams.  In  sleep,  says  a  Per- 
sian poet  with  whom  3'Oung  Hastings  was  afterwards  doubt- 
less acquainted,  the  beggar  and  the  king  are  equal.  If 
Warren  Hastings  slept  as  a  beggar,  he  certainly  dreamed  as 
a  king.  We  know,  on  his  own  statement,  that  when  he  was 
but  a  child  of  seven  he  cherished  that  wild  ambition  which 
was  to  lead  him  through  so  many  glories  and  so  many 
crimes.  We  are  familiar  with  the  picture  of  the  boy 
leaning  over  the  stream  on  that  summer  day,  and  looking 
at  the  old  dwelling  of  his  race,  and  swearing  to  himself 
his  oath  of  Hannibal  that  some  dav  he  would,  if  the  stars 
were  propitious,  win  back  his  inheritance. 

Somewhere  about  a  3^ear  after  this  oath  of  Hannibal 
the  fortunes  of  the  lad  took  a  turn  for  the  better.  An 
uncle,  Howard  Hastings,  who  had  a  place  in  the  Customs, 
was  willing  to  give  a  helping  hand  to  the  son  of  his  grace- 
less brother.  He  brought  Warren  Hastings  to  London. 
In  London  Warren  Hastings  was  first  sent  to  school  at 
Newington,  where  his  mind  was  better  nourished  than  his 
body.  In  after  life  he  used  to  declare  that  his  meagre  pro- 
portions and  stunted  form  were  due  to  the  hard  living 
of  his  Newington  days.    But  the  Newington  days  came  to 

1*750.  WARREX   HASTINGS'S  EARLY   LIFE.  247 

an  end.  When  he  was  some  twelve  years  of  age,  his  uncle 
sent  him  to  Westminster  School,  where  his  name  is  still 
inscribed  in  letters  of  gold,  and  where  his  memory  adds 
its  lustre  to  the  historic  associations  of  a  place  that  is  rich- 
ly blessed  with  historic  associations.  Warren  Hastinors 
distinguished  himself  in  the  great  school  of  Westminster, 
as  he  had  already  distinguished  himself  in  the  little  vil- 
lage school  of  Daylesford.  With  his  oath  of  Hannibal 
burning  in  his  mind,  he  seems  to  have  determined  to  seek 
success  in  all  that  he  attempted,  and  to  gain  it  by  his  in- 
domitable energy  and  will.  If  he  was  brilliant  as  a  schol- 
ar, he  was  not,  therefore,  backward  in  those  other  arts 
which  school-boys  prize  beyond  scholarship.  He  was  as 
famous  on  the  river  for  his  swimming  and  his  boating  as 
he  was  famous  in  the  classroom  for  his  application  and  his 
ability.  His  masters  predicted  for  him  a  brilliant  Univer- 
sity career,  and  it  is  possible  that  Hastings  may  have  seen 
Daylesford  Manor  awaiting  him  at  the  end  of  such  a 
career,  and  have  welcomed  the  prospect.  But  the  life  of 
Warren  Hastings  was  not  fated  to  pass  in  the  cloistered 
greenness  of  a  university  or  in  the  still  air  of  delightful 
studies.  Howard  Hastings  died  and  left  his  nephew  to  the 
care  of  a  connection,  a  Mr.  Chiswick,  who  happened  to  be 
a  member  of  the  East  India  Company.  Perhaps  Mr.  Chis- 
wick resented  the  obligation  thus  laid  upon  him;  perhaps, 
as  a  member  of  the  East  India  Company,  he  honestly  be- 
lieved that  to  enter  its  service  was  the  proudest  privilege 
that  a  young  man  could  enjoy.  Whatever  were  his  reasons, 
he  resolutely  refused  to  sanction  his  charge's  career  at  the 
university,  insisted  upon  his  being  placed  for  a  season  at 
a  commercial  school  to  learn  arithmetic  and  book-keeping, 
and  then  shipped  him  oif  out  of  hand  to  Bengal  as  an 
addition  to  the  ranks  of  the  Calcutta  clerks.  Thus  it 
came  to  pass  that  Warren  Hastings,  like  Clive,  was  sent  to 
India  by  persons  in  England  who  were  anxious  to  get  rid 
of  a  troublesome  charge.  There  were  a  good  many  per- 
sons in  the  years  to  come  who  were  very  ready  to  curse  the 
obstinacy  of  the  elder  Clive  and  the  asperity  of  Mr.  Chis- 
wick for  sending  two  such  terrible  adventurers  forth  to 

248  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  ltiii. 

the  groat  battle-field  of  India.  The  history  of  our  Indian 
Empire  would  certainly  have  been  a  very  different  story  if 
only  ]\Ir.  Clive  had  been  more  attached  to  his  ne'er-do-well 
son,  and  if  only  IMr.  Chiswick  had  been  better  affected 
towards  his  industrious  charge.  In  the  January  of  1750 
Warren  Hastings  said  farewell  to  his  dreams  of  a  scholar's 
garland  in  England  and  sailed  for  India.  In  the  October 
of  the  same  year  he  landed  in  Bengal  and  altered  the  his- 
tory of  the  world. 

Gentlemen  adventurers  who  went  out  to  India  in  the  last 
century  in  the  service  of  John  Company  seldom  knew 
much,  or  indeed  cared  much,  al)out  the  condition  of  the 
country  which  they  were  invading.  They  dreamed  mostly 
of  large  fortunes,  fortunes  to  be  swiftly  made  and  then 
brought  home  and  expended  splendidly  to  the  amazement 
of  less  fortunate  stay-at-homes.  For  the  past  history  of 
India  they  did  not  care  a  penny  piece.  What  to  them 
were  the  mythical  deeds  of  Rama  and  of  Krishna;  what 
to  them  the  marches  of  Semiramis  and  Sesostris,  or  the 
conquests  of  Alexander,  or  the  fate  and  fortunes  of  the 
ancient  kingdoms  of  the  Deccan  and  Hindostan?  They 
cared  nothing  for  the  spread  of  ^Mahommedan  influence 
and  authority,  the  glories  of  the  Mogul  Empire,  the  fate 
of  Tamerlane,  the  fame  of  Aurungzebe.  For  them  the 
history  of  India  began  with  the  merchant  adventurers  of 
1659  and  the  East  India  Company  of  1600,  with  the  grant 
of  Bombay  to  England  as  part  of  the  dower  which  the 
Princess  of  Portugal  brought  to  Charles  the  Second.  Nor 
were  they  moved  by  imperial  ambitions.  It  did  not  enter 
into  their  heads  to  conceive  or  to  desire  the  addition  of  a 
vast  Indian  empire  to  the  appanages  of  the  English  crown. 
They  cared  little  for  the  conflicting  creeds  of  India,  for 
Brahmanism  and  Buddhism  and  Jainism  and  Hinduism 
and  the  sects  of  Islam.  They  knew  little  of  the  differing 
tongues  talked  over  that  vast  continent,  more  than  five 
hundred  in  number,  from  the  Hindi  of  one  hundred  mill- 
ion men  to  the  most  restricted  dialects  of  the  mountains 
of  Assam  and  Nepaul.  India  for  them  meant  the  little 
space  of  earth  whore  the  English  had  a  trading  interest, 

1750.  SURAJ    UD    DOWLAH.  249 

and  the  regions  of  the  shadowy  potentates  beyond  from 
whom  in  some  way  or  other  money  might  be  got. 

When  Warren  Hastings  landed  in  India  the  relations  of 
England  and  of  Englishmen  to  India  were  just  upon  the 
turn.  The  star  of  Clivers  fortunes  was  mounting  towards 
its  zenith;  the  fiery  planet  of  Dupleix  had  begun  to  fail 
and  pale  and  fade.  The  policy  which  Dupleix  had  adopt- 
ed, that  policy  of  intrigue  with  the  native  princes  of  India, 
the  English  East  India  Company  had  been  forced  in  self- 
defence  and  very  reluctantly  to  adopt.  Having  adopted  it, 
the  men  of  the  English  East  India  Company  proved 
themselves  to  be  better  players  at  the  game  than 
Dupleix.  Warren  Hastings,  driving  his  pen  at  a 
desk  in  Calcutta,  or  looking  after  silk-spinning  in  the 
factory  of  Kazim  Bazar  near  Murshidabad  on  the  Ganges, 
was  able  to  watch  almost  from  its  beginning  the  great  po- 
litical drama  in  which  he  was  destined  in  his  time  to  play 
so  great  a  part,  and  which  was  to  end  in  giving  England 
a  great  Asiatic  empire.  When  Suraj  ud  Dowlah  declared 
war  against  the  English  his  first  move  was  to  fall  upon 
the  Kazim  Bazar  settlement.  Warren  Hastings  and  the 
other  English  residents  were  made  prisoners  and  sent  to 
Murshidabad,  where,  through  the  intervention  of  the 
Dutch  Company,  they  were  humanely  treated.  Then  came 
the  madman's  march  on  Calcutta,  the  horror  of  the  Black 
Hole,  and  the  flight  of  the  Governor  and  the  Company's 
servants  to  the  little  fort  at  Falta  in  the  Hughli  below 
Calcutta.  Communications  were  entered  upon  between 
Governor  Drake  in  Falta  Island  and  Hastings  at  Murshi- 
dabad with  a  view  to  coming  to  terms  with  Suraj  ud  Dow- 
lah. Warren  Hastings  was  already,  however,  developing 
that  genius  for  Oriental  diplomacy  which  afterwards  so 
characterized  his  career.  He  v^as  made  aware  of  the 
treason  that  w^as  hatching  against  Suraj  ud  Dowlah  in  his 
own  court  and  among  his  own  friends,  and  he  was  quite 
ready  to  play  his  part  and  find  his  account  in  that  treason. 
Treason  is  a  risky  game  for  a  political  prisoner  at  a  court 
like  that  of  Suraj  ud  Dowlah.  Warren  Hastings  was  quick- 
witted enough  to  see  that  the  sooner  he  got  away  from  that 

250  A   HISTORY    OF   THE   VOIR   GEORGKS.  ch.  lviii. 

court  the  better  for  himself.  lie  succeeded  accordingly 
in  making  his  escape  and  joining  the  fugitives  at  Falta. 
Here  two  things  of  moment  happened  to  him.  He  mot 
the  woman  who  was  to  be  his  first  wife,  and  he  met  the 
great  man  who  was  to  give  him  his  first  chance  for  fame. 
Among  the  refugees  from  Calcutta  was  the  widow  of  a 
Captain  Campbell.  Warren  Plastings  fell  in  love  with  her, 
and  afterwards  in  an  hour  of  greater  security  he  married 
her.  He  seem  to  have  been  very  fond  of  her,  to  have 
been  very  happy  with  her,  but  she  died  very  poon  after  the 
marriage,  and  the  two  children  she  bore  him  both  died 
young,  and  so  that  episode  came  to  an  end.  The  more  mo- 
mentous meeting  was  with  Clive.  "When  the  Madras  ex- 
pedition appeared  in  the  Hughli,  Warren  Hastings  volun- 
teered to  serve  in  the  ranks,  shouldered  his  gun,  and  took 
his  part  in  the  fighting  round  Calcutta.  But  Clive's  keen 
e3TS  discerned  stuft'  for  better  things  than  the  sieging  of 
Indian  forts  in  the  young  volunteer.  When  Suraj  ud 
Dowlah's  defeat  ended  in  Suraj  ud  Dowlah's  death,  and  the 
traitorous  Mir  Jaffier.  sat  on  the  throne  in  his  stead,  War- 
ren Hastings  was  sent  to  the  court  of  the  new  prince  at 
Murshidabad,  originally  as  second  to  the  Company's  repre- 
sentative, Mr.  Scratton,  and  afterwards  as  sole  representa- 

At  ^lurshidabad  Warren  Hastings  had  every  oppor- 
tunity to  justify  Clive's  acumen  in  singling  him  out  for 
distinction.  The  post  he  held  was  one  of  exceptional  diffi- 
culty and  delicacy.  Mir  Jaffier  was  not  altogether  an 
agreeable  person  to  get  on  with.  The  English  in  India 
were  taking  their  first  lessons  in  Oriental  intrigue.  They 
were  learning  that  if  it  was  not  particularly  difficult  to 
upset  one  tyrant  and  place  another  on  his  throne,  it  was  not 
always  easy  to  keep  that  other  on  the  throne,  or  at  all  safe 
to  rely  upon  his  loyalty  to  the  men  who  had  brought  about 
his  exaltation.  Mir  Jaffier  was  surrounded  by  enemies. 
His  court,  like  every  other  Oriental  court,  was  honeycomb- 
ed with  intrigues  against  him.  His  English  patrons,  or 
rather  his  English  masters,  proved  to  have  an  itching 
palm.    They  were  always  wanting  money,  and  Mir  Jaffier 

1762.  CLIYE   AND   THE   EAST   INDIA    COMPANY.  251 

had  not  always  got  enough  money  in  his  treasury  to  con- 
tent their  desires.  So  he  began  to  intrigue  against  the 
English  with  the  Dutch,  and  the  English  found  him  out 
and  promptly  knocked  him  off  his  throne,  and  set  up  a  nev/ 
puppet  in  his  stead.  By  this  time  Clive  had  returned  to 
England,  and  the  direction  of  the  destinies  of  the  East 
India  Company  was  in  the  hands  of  the  Governor,  ]\Ir. 
Vansittart,  a  well-meaning  man  whose  views  were  not  the 
views  of  Clive.  Clive  objected  very  much  to  the  course 
which  the  East  India  Company  were  pursuing.  He  wrote 
a  letter  to  the  London  Board  rebuking  in  no  measured 
language  the  defects  and  evils  of  the  Indian  Administra- 
tion. Once  again  Clive  was  the  cause  of  Warren  Has- 
tings's advancement.  The  London  Board  ordered  the  in- 
stant dismissal  of  all  the  officials  who  had  signed  Clive's 
letter  and  Warren  Hastings  was  appointed  to  fill  one  of 
the  vacant  places. 

The  five  years  that  elapsed  between  the  departure  of 
Clive  for  England  in  1760  and  his  return  to  India  in  1765 
are  not  years  that  reflect  much  credit  upon  the  East  India 
Company's  administration.  They  had  suddenly  found 
themselves  lifted  from  a  condition  of  dependency  and,  at 
one  moment,  of  despair  to  a  position  of  unhoped-for  au- 
thority and  influence.  Xew  to  such  power,  dazzled  by  such 
influence,  they  abused  the  one  and  they  misused  the  other. 
But  the  part  that  Warren  Hastings  played  during  this  un- 
fortunate five  years  reflects  only  credit  upon  himself.  The 
vices  of  the  East  India  Company  were  not  his  vices ;  he  was 
no  party  to  their  abuse  of  their  power,  or  their  misuse  of 
their  influence.  When  he  was  advanced  from  the  Patna 
agency,  his  place  was  taken  by  a  Mr.  Ellis,  who  seems  to 
have  been  exceptionally  and  peculiarly  unfitted  for  the 
delicate  duties  of  his  post.  He  appears  to  have  carried  on 
all  his  negotiations  and  communications  with  the  Nawab 
Mir  Kasim  with  a  high-handed  arrogance  and  an  absence 
of  tact  which  were  in  their  way  astonishing.  Eelations  be- 
tween the  Nawab  and  Mr.  Ellis,  as  the  Company's  repre- 
sentative, became  so  strained  that  in  1762  Warren  Hastings 
was  again  sent  to  Patna  to  investigate  the  whole  trouble. 

252  A  HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  ltiii. 

Clive's  JTul.frnicnt  was  already  justified :  Warren  Hastings's 
ability  had  already  found  mueh  of  the  recognition  it  de- 
served; his  twelve  years  of  Indian  life  had  changed  him 
from  the  adventurous,  inex})erienced  lad  into  the  ripe  and 
skilful  statesman  upon  whom  his  masters  were  confident 
that  they  could  rely  in  such  a  moment  of  emergency  as 
had  now  come. 

It  would  have  been  better  for  the  Company  if  they  had 
taken  the  advice  that  Warren  Hastings  gave  in  his  report 
on  the  quarrel  between  the  Xawab  on  the  one  side  and 
]\Ir.  Ellis  on  the  other.  He  was  a  servant  of  John  Com- 
pany, but  he  was  too  good  a  servant  not  to  see  the  faults 
of  his  masters  and  the  follies  to  which  those  faults  were 
leading.  The  Company  had  blundered  very  badly  before 
the  coming  of  Clive ;  had  blundered  through  false  security, 
through  negligence,  through  pusillanimity,  through  greed. 
After  the  victories  of  Clive  had  placed  the  Board  in 
Leadenhall  Street,  and  its  representatives  in  India,  on  a 
very  different  footing,  the  Company  blundered  through 
rapacity,  through  selfishness,  through  the  arrogance  born 
of  an  unforeseen  success.  All  manner  of  oppressions  and 
injustices  were  committed  under  the  powerful  protection 
of  the  English  name.  Hastings  declared  that  the  only  way 
of  ending  the  difficulty  was  to  come  to  some  definite  settle- 
ment with  the  Xawab  as  to  his  authority  on  the  one  hand 
and  the  Company's  privileges  on  the  other.  Together 
with  ]\Ir.  Vansittart,  the  Governor,  Hastings  visited  the 
Nawab,  and  a  plan  of  conciliation  was  made  by  which  the 
rights  of  the  Nawab  and  the  rights  of  the  Company  were 
duly  apportioned  and  declared.  But  the  headstrong  Coun- 
cil of  the  Company  refused  the  propositions  of  Warren 
Hastings  and  of  Vansittart,  and  refused  to  make  any  con- 
cessions to  the  ISTawab.  The  irritated  Nawab  retaliated 
by  abolishing  all  internal  duties  upon  trade,  by  which 
act  he  deprived  the  English  of  the  unjust  advantages  for 
which  they  had  contended.  It  was  now  a  question  which 
should  attack  the  other  first,  and  Mr.  Ellis,  hearing  a 
rumor  of  intended  hostilities  on  the  part  of  Mir  Kasim, 
attacked  the  Nawab,  drove  him  out  of  his  dominions  and 

1165-69.  HASTINGS'S   RETURN   TO   ENGLAND.  253 

set  up  Mir  Jaffier  again  for  a  time.  Hastings  protested 
against  these  acts,  and  declared  that  he  would  have  re- 
signed but  that  he  was  unwilling  to  leave  the  Company 
while  engaged  in  a  harassing  war.  But  his  position  was 
uncomfortable.  His  counsels  and  those  of  Mr.  Vansit- 
tart  were  unheeded.  English  aggression  continued.  Mr. 
Vansittart  left  for  England  in  1764,  and  in  the  December 
of  that  year  Hastings  followed  him,  glad  to  leave  a  scene 
of  so  much  disorder,  a  disorder  that  was  to  increase  alarm- 
ingly, until  in  the  September  of  1765  Clive  reappeared 
in  India  and  set  things  straight  again. 

Of  no  period  of  Warren  Hastings's  life  is  less  known 
than  of  the  four  years  which  he  spent  in  his  native  land — • 
from  1765  to  1769.  He  did  not  return  to  England  like 
the  traditional  Nabob,  with  pockets  overflowing  with  ru- 
pees. He  had  not  employed  his  time  and  his  energies, 
as  so  many  other  servants  of  John  Company  had  done, 
solely  to  the  furthering  of  his  own  fortunes,  and  the  fill- 
ing of  his  own  pockets.  If  he  had  sailed  for  India  four- 
teen years  earlier  as  a  penniless  lad,  he  returned  to  Eng- 
land comparatively  a  poor  man.  He  had  tried  his  hand 
at  commerce  like  every  one  else  in  India,  but  commerce 
was  not  much  in  his  line.  He  had  the  capacities  of  a 
statesman,  he  had  the  tastes  of  a  man  of  letters,  but  he 
did  not  in  any  great  degree  possess  the  qualities  that  go  to 
make  a  successful  merchant.  It  is  even  said  that  he  had 
to  borrow  the  money  to  pay  his  passage  home,  and  it 
seems  certain  that  when  he  was  home,  the  generous  way 
in  which  he  endeavored  to  assist  his  relations  sorely  taxed 
his  meagre  means. 

Hastings  seems  to  have  sought  for  distinction  in  the 
career  of  a  man  of  letters  and  not  to  have  found  it.  The 
ability  which  he  displayed  in  administration  and  the  writ- 
ing of  State  papers  and  political  correspondence  vanished 
whenever  he  attempted  to  produce  work  that  made  a 
more  ambitious  claim  to  be  considered  literature.  The 
clearness  of  statement,  the  width  of  view,  the  logical  form, 
the  firm  grasp  and  profound  knowledge  which  were  charac- 
teristic of  the  evidence  he  gave  before  the  House  of  Com- 

254  A    IIISTOIiV    UF   THE    FOUR   GEOKGES.  ch.  lviii. 

inons  Coiniiiittee  in  17G6,  gave  place  to  a  thin  and  nigglint^ 
j)('dantry  of  style  when  he  turned  his  pen  to  the  essays 
and  the  verses  of  a  man  of  letters.  Yet  there  were  some 
topics  on  which  he  was  eminently  qualified  to  write,  and 
by  which,  under  happier  conditions,  he  might  have  earned 
distinction.  While  he  was  in  India  he  had  not  allowed 
his  active  mind  to  be  entirely  occupied  with  the  duties  of 
his  official  career.  That  love  of  literature,  that  marvel- 
lous capacity  for  acquiring  knowledge,  which  had  charac- 
terized him  in  his  Westminster  school-days,  remained  with 
him  at  the  desk  of  the  East  India  Company  and  in  the 
courts  of  Indian  princes.  He  gave  great  attention  to  the 
languages  and  the  literatures  of  the  East.  Most  of  those 
English  who  served  their  term  in  India  contented  them- 
selves, when  they  troubled  themselves  at  all  about  the 
matter,  with  learning  as  much  of  the  native  vernaculars 
with  which  they  were  brought  into  contact  as  was  neces- 
sary for  the  carrying  on  of  a  conversation  and  the  giving 
of  an  order.  With  such  a  measure  of  knowledge  Warren 
Hastings  was  not  content.  Pie  studied  Persian,  the  court- 
ly language  of  India,  closely;  he  read  much  in  its  enchant- 
ing literature.  When  he  came  back  to  England  in  1765 
he  was  possessed  of  a  knowledge  of  the  most  beautiful  of 
the  Eastern  languages,  as  rare  as  it  was  useless  then  for  an 
English  man  of  letters  to  possess. 

Almost  a  century  later  the  great  American  transcenden- 
talist,  Emerson,  prophesied  a  rise  of  Orientalism  in  Eng- 
land, and  he  lived  to  see  his  words  come  true.  But  in  the 
days  when  Warren  Hastings  was  striving  to  make  his  way 
in  London  as  an  author,  the  influence  of  the  East  upon 
literature,  upon  scholarship,  upon  thought,  was  scarcely 
perceptible.  People  read  indeed  the  "  Arabian  Nights " 
in  M.  Galland's  delightful  version;  read  the  Persian  tales 
of  Petit  de  la  Croix;  read  all  the  translations  of  the  many 
sham  Oriental  tales  which  the  popularity  of  Galland  and 
Petit  de  la  Croix  had  called  for  in  Paris,  and  which  the 
Parisian  writers  were  ready  to  supply.  But  serious  Orien- 
tal scholarship  can  hardly  be  said  to  have  existed  in  Eng- 
land.   Sir  William  Jones  was  the  only  Englishman  of  dis- 

1769.     WARREN    HASTINGS   AS   AN    ORIENTAL   SCHOLAR.      255 

tinction  who  was  earnestl}^  devoted  to  Eastern  studies; 
but  his  Persian  Grammar,  which  was  in  some  degree  the 
foundation-stone  of  Persian  scholarship  in  England,  had 
not  yet  appeared,  and  Sir  William  Jones  was  still  writing 
to  Eeviczki  those  delightful  letters  in  which  he  raves  about 
the  poetry  of  the  Arabs  and  the  Persians.  Thus  the 
scholarship  of  Warren  Hastings  placed  him  in  an  ex- 
ceedingly small  minority  among  Englishmen  of  letters. 
Hastings  was  not  the  man  to  be  alarmed  or  discouraged 
by  finding  himself  in  a  minority.  He  was  as  impassioned 
an  admirer  of  Persian  poetry  as  Sir  William  Jones;  he 
considered  that  the  Persian  language  should  be  included 
in  the  studies  of  all  well-educated  men;  he  dreamed  of 
animating  the  waning  fires  of  Oriental  learning  at  Ox- 
ford. He  had  a  vision  in  his  mind  of  a  new  scholarship, 
to  be  called  into  being  by  the  generosity  of  the  East  India 
Company.  He  thought  of  Englishmen  becoming  as  famil- 
iar with  the  deeds  of  Eustum  as  with  the  wrath  of  Achil- 
les, as  intimate  with  the  Ghazels  of  Hafiz  as  with  the  Odes 
of  Horace.  He  seems  to  have  visited  Dr.  Johnson  in  the 
hope  of  securing  him  as  an  ally  in  his  scheme.  The  scheme 
came  to  nothing,  but  the  learning,  the  literary  taste,  and 
scholarly  ambition  of  Hastings  made  a  strong  impression 
upon  Johnson,  who  entertained  a  stately  regard  for  the 
young  man  from  India. 

It  soon  became  plain  to  Warren  Hastings  that  he  was  not 
going  to  make  much  of  a  livelihood  either  by  Persian 
poetry  or  by  the  calling  of  a  man  of  letters.  His  thoughts 
had  turned  back  to  India  within  a  year  of  his  return  to 
England,  and  he  had  applied  for  employment  to  the  Com- 
pany, but  for  some  reason  his  request  was  not  granted. 
In  1768,  however,  the  Court  of  Directors  appointed  him  to 
a  seat  in  Council  at  Madras,  and  early  in  the  following 
year,  1769,  he  sailed  again  for  India  on  his  most  mo- 
mentous voyage.  Xot  only  was  that  ship,  the  "  Duke  of 
Grafton,"  bearing  him  to  a  career  of  the  greatest  glory 
and  the  greatest  obloquy;  not  only  was  it  carrying  him 
to  a  grandeur  and  a  fall  almost  unparalleled  in  the  history 
of  men  who  were  not  monarchs.     On  board  the  "  Duke  of 

256  A    HISTOKV   OF   THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lviu. 

Grafton  "  Warren  Hastings  was  to  meet  with  one  of  the 
most  serious  inliuenccs  of  liis  life.  We  have  already  seen 
how  Hastings  had  married,  had  been  a  father,  and  how 
wife  and  children  had  passed  out  of  his  life  and  left  him 
alone.  Hastings  was  a  man  of  strong  emotions.  Now  he 
met  a  woman  who  awoke  all  the  strongest  emotions  of  his 
nature  and  won  his  devotion  for  the  rest  of  his  life.  The 
Baroness  von  Indioff  was  a  young,  beautiful,  attractive 
woman,  married  to  a  knavish  adventurer. 

It  is  certain  that  she  and  Hastings  felt  a  warm  attach- 
ment for  each  other;  it  seems  certain  that  Imhoff  connived 
at,  or  at  least  winked  at,  the  attachment.  It  may  be  that 
the  understanding  between  Hastings  and  Imhoff  was  in 
this  sense  honorable — that  the  Baron  was  willing  to  free 
his  wife  from  an  unhappy  union  that  she  might  form  a 
happy  union.  It  may  be  that  Hastings's  passion  was  in- 
deed, in  Macaulay's  fine  phrase,  "  patient  of  delay. '^  The 
simple  facts  that  call  for  no  controversy  are  that  Hastings 
met  the  Baroness  von  Imhoff  in  1769 ;  that  eight  years 
later,  in  1777,  Imhoff,  with  the  aid  of  Hastings's  money, 
obtained  his  divorce  in  the  Franconian  Courts,  and  that 
the  woman  who  had  been  his  wife  became  the  wife  of  Has- 
tings. She  made  him  a  devoted  wife;  he  made  her  a  de- 
voted husband.  Hastings  was  never  a  profligate.  In  an 
age  that  was  not  remarkable  for  morality  his  life  was 
apparently  moral  even  to  austerity.  His  relationships 
with  the  Imhoffs  constitute  the  only  charge  of  immorality 
that  has  been  brought  against  him,  and  the  charge,  at 
least,  is  not  of  the  gravest  kind.  If  Anglo-Indian  society 
was  at  first  inclined  to  be  uncharitable,  if  the  great  ladies 
of  its  little  world  held  aloof  in  the  beginning  from  the 
Baroness  von  Imhoff,  her  marriage  with  Hastings  seems 
to  have  restored  her  to  general  favor  and  esteem. 

Warren  Hastings  found  plenty  of  work  cut  out  for 
him  on  his  return  to  India.  He  had  his  own  ideas,  and 
strong  ideas,  about  the  necessity  for  reforms.  He  was 
much  opposed  to  the  policy  of  sending  out  as  secretaries 
to  the  local  governments  men  who  were  without  local  ex- 
perience and  therefore  less  likely  to  take  a  warm  interest 


in  the  Company's  welfare,  while  such  appointments  were 
in  themselves  unjust  to  the  claims  of  the  Company's  own 
servants.  He  vehemently  urged  the  necessity  for  making 
the  rewards  of  the  service  more  adequate  to  the  duties 
of  the  service,  and  he  announced  himself  as  deter- 
mined to  do  all  he  could  for  "^  the  improvement  of  the 
Company's  finances,  so  far  as  it  can  be  effected  without 
encroaching  upon  their  future  income."  If  Hastings 
could  scheme  out  needed  reforms  on  his  way  out,  he  found 
on  his  arrival  that  the  need  for  reform  was  little  short  of 
appalling.  The  position  which  Hastings  held  was  a  cu- 
rious one.  He  was  President  of  the  Council,  it  is  true, 
but  president  of  a  council  of  which  every  member  had  an 
equal  vote,  and  many  of  the  members  of  which  had  per- 
sonal reasons  for  wishing  to  oppose  the  reforms  that  Has- 
tings Avas  coming  out  to  accomplish.  A  disorganized  gov- 
ernment had  to  be  reorganized,  an  exhausted  exchequer 
to  be  refilled,  a  heart-breaking  debt  to  be  reduced,  and 
all  this  had  to  be  done  under  conditions  that  well  might 
have  shaken  a  less  dauntless  spirit  than  that  of  Warren 

Warren  Hastings  was  never  for  one  moment  shaken. 
In  a  very  short  space  of  time  he  had  greatly  bettered  the 
administrative  svstem,  had  fostered  the  trade  of  the  coun- 
try  by  the  adoption  of  a  uniform  and  low  Customs  duty, 
and  had  greatly  furthered  the  establishment  of  civilized 
rule  in  the  province  conquered  by  Clive.  He  accomplished 
this  in  the  face  of  diiliculties  and  all  dissensions  in  his  own 
Council,  against  subtle  native  intrigues,  against  opposi- 
tion open  and  covert  of  the  most  persistent  kind.  Every 
creature  who  throve  out  of  the  disorganization  of  India 
naturally  worked,  in  the  daylight  or  in  the  dark,  against 
Hastings's  efforts  at  organization.  In  1771,  when  he  was 
made  Governor  of  Bengal,  he  had  attempted  much  and 
succeeded  in  much.  He  fought  hard  with  the  secret  terror 
of  dacoity.  Having  given  Bengal  a  judicial  system,  he  pro- 
ceeded to  increase  its  usefulness  by  drawing  up  a  code  of 
]\Iohammedan  and  Hindu  law.  For  the  former  he  used 
the  digest  made   by  command   of   Aurungzebe;   for  the 

VOL.   III. — 9 

258  A    niSTORY  OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  ltiii. 

second  lie  employed  ten  learned  J'undits,  the  result  of 
whose  labors  was  afterwards  translated  into  English  bv 
II allied,  who  had  been  the  friend  of  Sheridan  and  his 
rival  for  the  hand  of  ^liss  Linley. 

The  work  which  Warren  Hastings  accomplished  in  In- 
dia must  be  called  gigantic.  He  created  organization  out 
of  chaos;  he  marched  straightforward  upon  the  course 
which  Clive  had  already  marked  out  as  the  path  of  the 
East  India  Company's  glory.  The  East  India  Company 
was  not  very  eager  to  advance  along  that  path.  Hastings 
spurred  its  sluggish  spirit,  and,  though  he  was  not  able 
to  do  all  that  his  daring  nature  dreamed  of,  he  left  behind 
him  a  long  record  of  great  achievements.  The  annexation 
of  Benares,  the  practical  subjection  of  Oude,  the  extension 
of  British  dominion,  the  triumphs  of  British  arms,  must 
be  remembered  to  the  credit  of  Warren  Hastings  when  his 
career  as  a  great  English  adventurer  is  being  summed  up. 
That  British  Empire  in  India  for  which  Clive  unconscious- 
ly labored  owes  its  existence  to-day  in  no  small  degree  to 
the  genius,  to  the  patience,  and  to  the  untiring  energy  of 
Warren  Hastings. 

The  two  heaviest  charges  levelled  against  Warren  Has- 
tings are  in  connection  with  the  Eohilla  war  and  with  the 
trial  of  Nuncomar,  now  better  known  as  Nand  Kumar. 
The  genius  of  Burke  and  the  genius  of  Macaulay  have 
served  not  merely  to  intensify  the  feeling  against  Hastings, 
but  in  some  degree  to  form  the  judgments  and  bias  the 
opinions  of  later  writers.  But  it  is  only  due  to  the  memory 
of  a  great  man  to  remember  that  both  in  the  case  of  the 
Eohilla  war  and  in  the  case  of  Nand  Kumar  there  were  two 
sides  to  the  question,  and  that  Hastings's  side  has  not 
always  been  investigated  with  the  care  it  deserves.  The 
adversary  who  denounced  him  in  the  House  of  Commons 
and  impeached  him  in  Westminster  Hall,  the  adversary 
who  assailed  him  with  a  splendid  prose,  were  alike  inspired 
by  a  longing  for  justice  and  a  hatred  of  oppression.  But 
it  should  be  possible  now,  when  more  than  a  century  has 
passed  since  the  indictment  of  the  one  and  well-nigh  half 
a  century  since  the  indictment  of  the  other,  to  remember 


that  if  Hastings  cannot  be  exculpated  there  is  at  least  a 
measure  of  excuse  to  be  offered  for  his  action. 

There  is  much  to  be  said  from  a  certain  point  of  view  in 
defence  of  Warren  Hastings^s  action  with  regard  to  the 
Rohilla  war.  The  Kohilla  chiefs  were  no  doubt  a  danger 
to  the  Nawab  of  Oude,  whom  Hastings  regarded  as  a  use- 
ful ally  of  the  Company.  By  the  conquest  of  Rohilkhand 
Hastings  hoped  to  obtain  for  that  ally  a  compact  State 
shut  in  effectually  from  foreign  invasion  by  the  Ganges 
all  the  way  from  the  frontiers  of  Behar  to  the  mountains 
of  Thibet,  while  at  the  same  time  this  useful  ally  would 
remain  equally  accessible  to  the  British  forces  either  for 
hostilities  or  protection.  Put  in  this  way  the  case  seemed, 
no  doubt,  plausible  enough  to  Hastings,  and  to  all  who 
thought  with  Hastings  that  Indian  chiefs  and  princes  were 
but  pieces  on  a  board,  to  be  pushed  this  way  or  that  way, 
advanced  or  removed  altogether  at  the  pleasure  and  for 
the  advantage  of  the  English  resident  and  ruler.  But  what 
actually  happened  was  that  Hastings,  in  defiance  of  the 
whole  principle  of  the  Company's  administration  in  India, 
interfered  in  the  contests  of  native  races  and  lent  the  force 
of  English  arms  to  aid  a  despot  in  the  extirpation  of  his 
enemies.  It  is  not  to  the  point  to  urge  that  the  Eohillas 
were  not  undeserving  of  their  fate.  Even  if  the  Rohillas 
were  little  other  than  robber  chiefs,  even  if  their  existence 
constituted  a  weak  point  in  the  lines  of  defence  against 
the  ever-terrible  Mahrattas,  all  this  did  not  in  the  eyes 
of  Burke  and  of  those  who  thought  with  Burke  justify 
Hastings  in  lending  English  arms  for  their  extermination 
and  receiving  Indian  money  for  the  loan.  They  saw  an 
act  of  hideous  injustice  and  corruption  where  Hastings 
saw  merely  a  piece  of  ingenious  state  policy.  He  gave  the 
troops,  he  got  the  money.  The  Rohillas  were  destroyed 
as  an  independent  power,  and  the  Company  was  richer 
than  it  had  been  before  the  transaction  by  some  four  hun- 
dred thousand  pounds. 

The  story  of  Xand  Kumar  comes  into  the  history  as  the 
result  of  an  organic  change  in  the  composition  and  ad- 
ministration of  the  East  India  Company.     North's  Regu- 

OGO  A    ntSTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  mil. 

Jaliii^^  All  of  1773  made  many  changes  in  the  administra- 
tion of  English  India.  The  changes  that  most  directly 
concerned  Hastings  converted  the  Governor  of  Bengal  into 
a  Governor-General,  and  reduced  his  Council  to  four  mem- 
bers. Tlie  Governments  of  Madras  and  Bombay  were 
placed  under  the  joint  control  of  Governor-General  and 
Council.  Hastings  was  appointed,  naturally  enough,  to  be 
the  new  Governor-General.  His  four  councillors  were 
Richard  Barwell,  General  Clavering,  Colonel  Monson,  and 
l*hilip  Francis.  Barwell  was  the  only  one  who  was  a 
member  of  Hastings's  old  Council.  The  three  others  were 
in  England ;  they  had  been  chosen  expressly  to  guide  In- 
dian policy  in  accordance  with  the  views  of  the  home  Gov- 
ernment. Clavering  and  Monson  had  already  earned  some 
distinction  of  a  soldierly  kind;  Francis  was  by  far  the 
ablest  of  the  three.  The  author  of  the  "  Letters  of 
Junius  "  was  much  of  a  scholar  and  something  of  a  states- 
man, but  he  was  a  man  of  a  fierce  and  unbending  temper, 
prompt  to  quarrel,  hotly  arrogant  in  argument,  unrelent- 
ing in  his  hatred  of  those  who  crossed  his  purposes. 

These  were  not  the  kind  of  men  with  whom  Hastings 
was  likely  to  get  on,  and  from  the  moment  of  their  land- 
ing in  India,  where  they  complained  that  they  were  not  re- 
ceived with  sufficient  ceremony,  they  and  Hastings  were 
furiously  hostile.  The  meetings  of  the  Governor-General 
and  his  Council  became  so  many  pitched  battles,  in  which 
Hastings,  aided  only  by  Barwell,  fought  with  tenacity  and 
patience  against  men  whose  determination  appeared  to  be 
in  every  possible  instance  to  undo  what  he  had  done,  and 
to  oppose  what  he  proposed  to  do.  They  treated  him  as 
if  he  were  little  better  than  a  clerk  in  the  Company's  ser- 
vice; they  acted  as  if  their  one  purpose  was  to  drive  him 
out  of  pul)lic  life. 

As  soon  as  it  was  plain  that  the  new  men  of  the  new 
Council  were  hostile  to  Pla stings,  Hastings's  enemies  were 
eager  enough  to  come  forward  and  help  in  the  work.  One 
of  Hastings's  oldest  and  bitterest  enemies  was  the  Brahmin 
Nand  Kumar.  ISTand  Kumar  had  always  been  hostile  to 
Hastings.    Now,  when  Hastings  was  in  danger,  was  threat- 


ened  with  defeat  and  with  disgrace,  Nand  Kumar  came  for- 
ward with  a  whole  string  of  accusations  against  him,  ac- 
cusations to  which  Francis,  Clavering,  and  Monson  listen- 
ed eagerly.    Nand  Kumar  accused  Hastings  of  man}'  acts 
of  shameless  bribery,  declared  that  he  himself  had  bribed 
him  in  large  sums,  and  produced  a  letter  from  a  native 
princess  in  which  she  avowed  that  she  had  bribed  Has- 
tings in  large  sums.    The  three  councillors  appear  to  have 
accepted  every  word  uttered  by  jSTand  Kumar  as  gospel 
truth.     Hastings,  on  his  side,  refused  to  be  arraigned  at 
his  own  Council-board  by  a  man  whom  he  alleged  to  be 
of  notoriously  infamous  character,  though  he  and  Barwell 
were  perfectly  willing  that  the  whole  matter  should  be  re- 
ferred to  the  Supreme  Court.    At  last  Hastings  withdrew 
from  the  Council,  followed  by  Barwell.     The  others  im- 
mediately voted  Clavering  into  the  chair,  summoned  Nand 
Kumar  before  them,  listened  to  all  that  he  had  to  say,  and 
on  that  evidence,  in  the  absence  of  the  accused  man,  the 
self -constituted  tribunal  found  Hastings  guilty  of  taking 
bribes  from  the  princess,  and  ordered  him  to  repay  the 
sum  of  thirty-five  thousand  pounds  to  the  public  treasury. 
For  the  moment  it  seemed  as  if  Francis  and  his  party 
had  carried  the  day.     I  Castings  had  his  back  to  the  wall, 
he  seemed  to  be  well-nigh  friendless.    The  triumvirate  de- 
clared that  there  was  no  form  of  peculation  from  w^hich 
Hastings  had  thought  it  reasonable  to  abstain,  and  they 
formally  charged  him  with  having  acquired  by  peculation 
a  fortune  of  no  less  than  forty  lakhs  of  rupees  in  two  years 
and  a  half.     Suddenly,  when  the  position  of  Hastings  ap- 
peared to  be  at  its  worst,  it  changed.     Nand  Kumar  and 
two  Englishmen  named  Fowke,  who  had  been  very  zealous 
against  Hastings,  w^re  charged  before  the  Supreme  Court 
with   conspiracy,   in  having  compelled  a   native  revenue 
farmer  to  bear  false  witness  against  Hastings.    The  Chief 
Justice  of  the  Supreme  Court  was  Elijah  Impey,  Hastings's 
old  and  attached  friend,  a  circumstance  of  which  much 
has  been  made.    While  Nand  Kumar  was  bound  over  for 
trial  on  the  charge  of  conspiracy,  another  and  more  serious 
charge  was  brought  against  him  by  a  native  attorney,  who 

262  ^    HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lvih. 

accused  him  of  forging  and  publishing  a  bond.  On  this 
charge  Nand  Kumar  was  arrested,  and  after  a  lengthy 
hearing  of  the  case  committed  to  the  common  jail. 

There  is  nothing  very  surprising  in  this  charge  of  for- 
gery. Forgery  was  not  a  very  serious  crime  in  the  eyes  of 
such  men  as  either  Nand  Kumar  or  his  accuser.  It  was 
made  plain  that,  whether  he  had  forged  the  bond  or  no, 
he  had  forged  the  letter  from  the  princess  upon  which  the 
charge  against  Hastings  was  based,  for  the  princess  her- 
self declared  it  to  be  a  forgery.  It  had  aroused  some  sus- 
picion even  before  the  disclaimer,  on  account  of  the  sig- 
nature, which  did  not  resemble  her  signature  in  undoubt- 
ed and  authentic  communications.  On  the  question  of  the 
forged  bond  Nand  Kumar  was  duly  and  apparently  fairly 
tried.  It  was  not  very  much  of  a  charge.  The  business 
was  very  old.  The  native  attorney  had  been  seeking  for 
some  time  to  bring  Nand  Kumar  to  trial,  and  had  only 
substituted  a  criminal  for  a  civil  suit  when,  the  establish- 
ment of  the  Supreme  Court  enabled  him  to  do  so. 

Nand  Kumar's  trial  ended  in  conviction,  and  conviction 
for  forgery  brought  with  it  by  the  English  law  sentence 
of  death.  Whatever  may  be  thought  of  the  crime  of  for- 
gery in  England,  it  certainly  was  not  looked  upon  in  India 
by  Indians  as  a  criminal  offence  of  a  kind  that  called  for 
the  severest  penalty  of  the  law.  But  Nand  Kumar  had 
been  tried  by  English  law.  His  judges,  in  order  to  show 
their  fidelity  not  merely  to  the  spirit  but  to  all  the  forms 
of  English  law,  had  worn  their  heavy  wigs  all  through  the 
torrid  heat  of  those  Calcutta  June  days.  By  the  English 
law  he  was  convicted  and  sentenced  to  death.  The  tri- 
umvirate made  little  or  no  attempt  to  save  the  man  on 
whose  word  they  had  relied.  On  August  5,  1775,  Nand 
Kumar  was  hanged  on  the  Maidan  outside  Calcutta.  He 
met  his  death  with  the  composed  courage  of  a  man  who 
looked  upon  himself  as  a  martyr.  Whatever  his  offences 
may  have  been,  he  had  done  nothing  which  in  his  own 
eyes,  or  in  the  eyes  of  his  fellow-countrymen,  called  for 
the  pitiless  punishment  which  fell  upon  him. 

Of  course,  the  important  question  is  how  far,  if  at  all, 

1775.  THE   EXECUTION   OF  NAND   KUMAR.  263 

Hastings  was  concerned  in  the  death  of  Nand  Kumar. 
That  is  just  the  question  which  it  is  impossible  to  answer 
definitely.  The  certain  facts  are  that  Nand  Kumar  was 
Hastings's  enemy,  that  Impey  was  Hastings's  friend;  that 
at  a  moment  of  grave  crisis  in  Hastings's  life,  when  Nand 
Kumar  was  the  most  eminent  witness  against  his  name 
and  fame,  that  witness  was  arraigned  on  a  charge  that  was 
very  old,  that  had  been  suddenly  converted  from  a  civil 
to  a  criminal  charge;  that  he  w^as  tried,  found  guilty,  and 
executed.  On  the  basis  of  that  bare  narrative  of  facts  it 
would  seem  that  if  Hastings  had  nothing  to  do  with  the 
mattei',  he  might  almost  as  well  have  had  as  far  as  the 
judgment  of  posterity  went.  The  thing  was  too  apt,  the 
conditions  too  peculiar  not  to  leave  their  stigma  upon  the 
memory  of  the  man  who  gained  most  by  them. 

At  the  same  time  it  must  be  remembered  that,  however 
black  the  arguments  against  Hastings  may  seem,  there  is 
no  positive  proof  that  he  was  directly  implicated  in  what 
his  finemies  called  the  judicial  murder  of  Nand  Kumar. 
It  must  be  remembered  that  the  writer  who  has  gone  most 
deeply  into  the  whole  ugly  story,  Sir  James  Stephen,  in 
his  careful  "  Story  of  Nuncomar,"  has  after  long  and  ex- 
haustive analysis  of  every  particular  of  the  case  recorded 
his  judgment  in  favor  of  Impey  and  of  Hastings.  Sir 
James  Stephen's  judgment  is  not  final,  indeed,  but  it 
must  have  weight  with  any  one  who  attempts  impartially 
to  appreciate  two  public  men  who  have  been  accused  for 
more  than  a  century  of  a  terrible  crime.  Sir  James  Stephen 
believes  that  Nand  Kumar's  trial  was  perfectly  fair,  that 
Hastings  had  no  share  whatever  in  the  prosecution,  and 
that  there  was  no  collusion  of  any  kind  between  Hastings 
and  Impey  with  regard  to  the  trial,  the  verdict,  or  the 
execution.  Every  one  must  form  as  best  he  may  his  own 
judgment  upon  the  matter  and  the  men;  but  Sir  James 
Stephen's  opinion  is  one  that  must  be  taken  into  account 
in  any  attempt  to  decide. 

The  death  of  Nand  Kumar  did  not  end  the  struggle 
between  Hastings  and  his  three  antagonists.  While  they 
made  no  further  attempt  of  a  like  kind — the  fate  of  Nand 

264  A  HISTORY  OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lvhi. 

Kniiiar,  said  Franciy,  would  prevent  any  further  native 
information  against  the  Governor-General — they  still 
resolutely  strove  by  all  possible  means  to  cross  and  check 
him.  It  is  not  necessary  to  follow  in  all  their  mean  and 
wearisome  details  the  particulars  of  that  prolonged  con- 
flict. The  odds  were  against  Hastings  until  the  death  of 
Monson,  when,  by  means  of  his  own  casting  vote  and  the 
adhesion  of  Barwell,  Hastings  found  himself  the  master 
of  the  majority  at  the  Council-table.  But  the  persistence 
of  the  attacks  had  their  result  at  home,  where  an  ill-advised 
offer  of  resignation  made  by  Hastings  was  seized  upon  by 
the  Directors  of  the  Company.  The  resignation  was  ac- 
cepted, Wheler  was  appointed  Governor-General  in  his 
stead,  and  pending  his  arrival  in  India  the  post  was  to  be 
filled  by  Clavering. 

This  was  a  severe  blow  for  Hastings.  At  first  he  thought 
of  yielding  to  it,  in  which  case  his  career  in  India  would 
have  been  closed.  But  Clavering's  indecent  eagerness  to 
seize  upon  the  Governor-Generalship  before  it  was  fairly 
vacant  forced  Hastings  to  defiance.  He  refused  to  sur- 
render his  office  to  Clavering.  Clavering  called  upon  the 
army  to  support  him.  Hastings  called  upon  the  army  to 
stand  fast  by  him.  The  army  followed  Hastings,  and  the 
support  of  the  men  of  the  sword  was  follow^ed  by  the 
support  of  the  men  of  the  robe.  The  judges  of  the  Su- 
preme Court  backed  up  Hastings  and  censured  Clavering, 
and  a  little  later  Clavering's  death  left  Hastings  for  the 
time  supreme  in  the  Council-chamber.  His  supremacy 
was  contested  after  the  arrival  of  Wheler,  w^ho  immediately 
sided  with  Francis  against  Hastings.  But  the  supremacy 
was  not  overthrown.  Hastings  was  in  the  majority;  he 
would  not  allow  the  alliance  of  Francis  and  Wheler  to  im- 
pede him  in  his  purposes,  and  he  stuck  to  his  post  as  Gov- 

The  East  India  Company  made  no  effort  to  enforce  his 
resignation.  The  Court  of  Directors  resented  his  conduct, 
and  found  fault  with  him  persistently,  but  they  could  not 
overlook  his  influence  with  the  Court  of  Proprietors,  and 
the  condition  of  affairs  in  India  was  too  grave  to  make  the 


dismissal  of  Hastings  wise  or  politic.  The  Government 
bore  Hastings  little  love,  and  the  King  in  particular  was 
much  incensed  at  his  refusal  to  resign,  and  was  all  for  his 
recall  and  the  recall  of  Barwell  who  had  abetted,  and  the 
judges  who  had  supported  him.  But  the  struggle  with  the 
American  colonies  absorbed  the  attention  of  the  Adminis- 
tration too  closely  to  allow  them  to  interfere  so  markedly 
in  the  affairs  of  India  at  a  moment  when  interference 
might  perhaps  have  a  result  not  unlike  the  civil  war. 

English  opposition  was  not  the  only  difficulty  that  War- 
len  Hastings  had  to  contend  with.  Like  the  monarch  in 
the  Arabian  tale  who  discerns  armies  marching  against 
his  capital  from  every  point  of  the  compass,  Hastings 
found  enemies  rising  up  against  him  in  all  directions.  A 
league  of  three  native  powers  menaced  the  safety  of  the 
British  possessions.  The  Mahratta  states  combined  with 
the  Nizam  of  the  Deccan.  Both  again  combined  with 
a  new  power  whose  rise  had  been  as  rapid  as  it  was  alarm- 
ing, the  Mohammedan  power  of  Haidar  in  Mysore.  When 
Warren  Hastings  arrived  in  India  the  second  time  Haidar 
was  in  his  sixty-seventh  year.  He  was  born  in  1702  as  the 
son  of  a  Mogul  officer  in  the  Punjaub.  At  his  death 
Haidar  held  a  rank  somewhat  similar  to  that  of  a  captain 
in  the  service  of  the  Emperor  of  Delhi.  Haidar  deemed, 
and  rightly  deemed,  that  there  was  little  or  no  opportunity 
for  his  ambition  in  that  service,  and  his  eyes  seeking  for 
a  better  chief,  found  the  man  in  Nunjeraj,  the  nominal 
vizier  and  real  ruler  of  the  Kajah  of  Mysore.  In  1750 
Haidar  persuaded  the  troops  under  his  command  to  leave 
their  Mogul  prince  and  take  service  with  the  sovereign  of 
Mysore.  Under  that  sovereignty  he  rose  rapidly  to  dis- 
tinction. Though  he  was  little  better  than  a  robber  chief- 
tain, the  ablest  and  most  daring  robber  of  a  horde  of  rob- 
bers, his  power  grew  so  rapidly  that  in  time  he  was  able 
to  supplant  Nun j  era j,  and  in  the  end  to  usurp  the  sov- 
ereignty of  Mysore  in  1761. 

Haidar  had  his  bitter  grudge  against  the  English.  In 
1771  he  had  been  badly  beaten  by  the  ^lahrattas  and  had 
appealed  to  the  English  to  help  him,  as  they  had  under- 

266  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   TOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lviii. 

taken  by  treaty  to  do.  But  the  help  was  refused  to  the  de- 
feated prince,  and  the  defeated  prince  swore  an  oath  of 
vengeance  against  the  English,  and  when  the  time  seemed 
ripe  he  did  his  best  to  keep  his  oath.  When  in  1779  France 
declared  war  against  England,  Haidar  declared  in  favor 
of  the  French.  He  gave  his  sword  to  the  service  of  the 
Grand  Confederacy  in  1778  and  prepared  to  march  upon 
Madras.  The  President  and  the  Council  were  taken  un- 
awares. It  was  not  until  Haidar  had  marched  with  fire 
and  sword  into  the  Carnatic,  and  that  the  smoke  of  the 
villages  he  destroyed  in  his  progress  could  be  seen  from 
Madras,  that  they  learned  that  Haidar  was  in  earnest  and 
not  merely  making  a  menace  in  the  hope  of  frightening 
the  English  into  an  advantageous  treaty.  Hastings  him- 
self seems  to  have  been  convinced  that  Haidar  did  not 
mean  to  attack  the  Company,  but  when  the  Mysore  prince's 
purpose  was  plain  every  effort  was  made  to  stay  his  onset. 
Lord  ^facartney,  although  not  one  of  the  Company's  ser- 
vants, was  made  Governor  of  Madras.  Haidar  w^as  com- 
pelled for  the  time  to  abandon  his  attempt  upon  the  Car- 
natic. In  1782  his  hatred  of  the  English  w^as  ended  by  his 
sudden  death.  But  he  bequeathed  it  as  a  rich  legacy  to  his 
son  Tippu,  a  man  as  daring  and  as  ambitious  as  his  sire. 

Hastings  won  away  by  concessions  the  Mahrattas  and 
the  Xizam  from  the  cause  of  Tippu.  But  Tippu  had  his 
French  allies,  and  Tippu  and  his  French  allies  carried  on 
a  campaign  successful  enough  to  force  the  English  prac- 
tically to  appeal  for  a  peace,  which  Tippu  accorded  in  a 
treaty  flattering  at  once  to  his  pride  and  to  his  ambition. 
It  was  a  somewhat  dearly  bought  peace  for  the  English, 
for  Tippu,  regarding  the  advances  of  the  English  as  a 
proof  of  their  weakness,  made  demands  far  more  arrogant 
than  his  successes  justified,  and  those  demands  were  agreed 
to  by  the  English  envoys.  The  treaty  with  Tippu  had  to 
be  made  on  a  basis  of  mutual  restitution  of  conquests,  so 
that  England  was  left  at  the  end  of  the  struggle  against 
Mysore  with  a  great  loss  both  of  men  and  money,  and  no 
advantages,  territorial  or  strategical,  to  set  against  the  loss. 
Even  the  peace  upon  these  terms  obtained  did  not  prove 


9  lasting  peace.  Tippu  was  not  unnaturally  tempted  by 
the  concessions  of  the  English  into  further  displays  of 
arrogance  which  in  time  inevitably  resulted  in  another 
war.  But  by  the  time  that  war  broke  out  Warren  Has- 
tings had  returned  to  England  and  had  no  further  personal 
concern  with  the  affairs  of  British  India. 

In  the  mean  time  Hastings's  feud  with  his  antagonists 
on  the  Council-board  continued.  A  kind  of  reconciliation, 
a  kind  of  agreement  with  Francis,  enabled  Hastings  to  al- 
low Harwell  to  return  to  England  and  still  to  leave  the 
Governor-General  in  authority  at  the  Board.  But  Hastings 
found  that  reconciliation  or  agreement  with  Francis  was 
practically  impossible.  Rightly  or  wrongly,  Francis  re- 
newed his  old  policy  of  attacking  every  proposal  and  in- 
terfering with  every  project  that  Hastings  entertained.  At 
last  the  long  quarrel  came  to  a  violent  head.  Hastings  re- 
plied to  one  of  Francis's  minutes  in  some  severe  words,  in 
which  he  declared  himself  unable  to  rely  upon  Francis's 
word,  as  he  had  found  Francis  to  be  a  man  devoid  of  truth 
and  honor. 

Such  a  charge  made  in  those  days  was  generally  to  be 
met  with  in  only  one  way.  In  that  way  Francis  met  it. 
Francis  challenged  Hastings  to  a  duel.  Hastings  accept- 
ed the  challenge.  The  antagonists  met,  exchanged  shots, 
and  Francis  fell  severely  wounded  before  the  pistol  of 
Hastings.  Hastings  sent  friendly  messages  to  Francis 
and  offered  to  visit  him,  but  Francis  rejected  his  overtures 
absolutely,  and  on  his  return  to  health  renewed  his  attacks 
upon  Hastings  until  the  close  of  the  year,  when  he  sailed 
for  England  to  carry  on  more  successfully  his  plans 
against  his  enemy. 

Well  as  the  Supreme  Court  had  served  Hastings  in  the 
case  of  Nuncomar  and  in  the  quarrel  with  Clavering,  the 
time  came  when  Hastings  found  himself  placed  in  a  posi- 
tion of  temporary  hostility  to  that  Court  and  to  his  old 
friend  Impey.  The  bad  machinery  of  the  Act  of  1773  left 
room  for  almost  every  possibility  of  friction  between  the 
Supreme  Court  on  the  one  hand  and  the  Council  on  the 
other,  instead  of  framing,  as  it  should  have  framed,  its 

2C8  A   HISTORY   OF  TUE   FOUR  GEORGES.  en.  lviii. 

nioasiirc  so  as  to  allow  the  two  powers  to  work  harmonious- 
ly top^cthcr,  each  in  its  own  sphere,  for  the  welfare  of 
British  India.  The  friction  grew  more  intense  as  time 
went  on.  Sometimes  one  party  to  the  quarrel  was  in  the 
right,  sometimes  the  other.  Whichever  was  the  case,  the 
spectacle  of  the  quarrel  was  in  itself  sufficiently  humili- 
ating and  sufficiently  dangerous.  Hastings  devised  a 
scheme  for  the  better  regulation  of  the  powers  and  privi- 
leges of  the  two  conflicting  bodies,  but  his  scheme  was  put 
on  one  side  by  the  British  Government,  and  the  Court 
and  the  Council  remained  as  irreconcilable  as  before. 
At  last  it  reached  such  a  pitch  that  the  Court  issued  a 
summons  against  the  Government.  The  Government  ig- 
nored the  summons;  things  stood  at  a  dead-lock;  the  per- 
sonal relationships  of  Hastings  and  Impey  were  strained 
almost  to  severance.  In  this  crisis  Hastings  thought  of 
and  carried  out  a  compromise.  He  offered  to  Impey  the 
presidency  of  the  Company's  chief  civil  court.  Impey  ac- 
cepted the  offer,  and,  though  he  has  been  severely  censured 
for  what  has  been  called  the  taking  of  a  bribe,  the  com- 
promise proved  to  be  the  best  way  out  of  the  difficulty  that 
had  arisen.  Impey,  who  has  been  happily  called  the  first 
of  Indian  codifiers,  showed  himself  to  be  an  excellent  head 
for  the  provincial  courts  that  were  thus  put  under  his 
control.  The  provincial  courts  had  been  hitherto  more  of  a 
curse  than  a  blessing;  under  Impey's  guidance  they  were 
brought  into  harmony  wdth  the  Supreme  Court.  Impey 
was  not  long  suffered  to  remain  in  his  new  office.  Two 
years  after  his  acceptance  of  the  post  he  was  removed  from 
it  by  order  of  the  Court  of  Directors.  But  the  work  he 
had  done  in  that  short  time  was  good  work  and  left  abiding 
traces.  Hastings's  plan  had  borne  fruit  in  Impey's 
"  Code,"  and  afterwards  in  the  passing  of  an  Act  of  Par- 
liament clearly  defining  the  jurisdiction  and  the  powers 
of  the  Supreme  Court. 

One  of  the  latest  acts  of  Warren  Hastings's  administra- 
tion was  also  one  of  the  acts  that  most  provoked  the  in- 
dignation and  the  resentment  of  those  who  in  England 
were  watching  with  hostile  eyes  the  progress  of  his  career. 

1781.  HASTINGS  AND   THE    RAJAH   OF  BENARES.  269 

Chait  Singh,  the  Eajah  of  Benares,  held  authority  at  first 
under  the  ruler  of  Oude,  and  afterwards  under  the  govern- 
ment of  the  East  India  Company,  to  whom  the  sovereign 
of  Oude  had  transferred  it.  The  Rajah  of  Benares  paid  a 
certain  tribute  to  the  Company.  The  heavy  necessities  of 
the  war  compelled  Hastings  to  call  upon  the  Rajah  for  a 
larger  sum.  The  step  was  not  unusual.  In  time  of  war  a 
vassal  of  the  Company  might  very  well  expect  to  be  called 
upon  for  an  increased  levy.  But  the  Rajah  of  Benares  was 
very  unwilling  to  give  this  proof  of  his  devotion  to  the 
Company.  He  demurred,  temporized,  promised  aid  of  men 
and  arms,  which  was  never  rendered.  Hastings  seems  to 
have  been  convinced,  first  of  all,  that  the  Rajah  was  pos- 
sessed of  enormous  wealth,  and  could  well  afford  to  pay 
heavily  for  the  privilege  of  being  ruled  over  by  the  Com- 
pany, and  in  the  second  place  that  it  was  necessary  for  the 
power  and  influence  of  the  Company  to  force  the  almost 
mutinous  Rajah  to  his  knees.  He  made  a  final  demand 
for  no  less  than  fifty  lakhs,  or  half  a  million  pounds,  and 
set  off  himself  for  Benares  to  compel  the  Rajah  to  obey. 

Hastings  never  wanted  courage,  but  his  Benares  expedi- 
tion was  certainly  the  most  daring  deed  of  his  whole  life. 
He  entered  the  sacred  city  of  Benares  attended  by  an  escort 
of  a  mere  handful  of  men,  and  in  Benares,  in  the  midst 
of  a  hostile  population,  and  practically  in  the  power  of  the 
Rajah,  he  acted  as  if  he  were  the  absolute  master  of  prince, 
people,  and  city.  He  insisted  upon  his  full  demands  being 
complied  with,  and  as  the  Rajah's  reply  appeared  to  be  un- 
satisfactory he  immediately  ordered  his  assistant,  Mr. 
Markham,  to  place  the  Rajah  under  arrest.  The  audacity 
of  the  step  was  so  great  as  to  suggest  either  that  Has- 
tings was  acting  with  the  recklessness  of  despair,  or  had 
formed  no  thought  as  to  the  not  merely  possible  but  prob- 
able result  of  his  action.  The  Rajah  accepted  the  confine- 
ment to  his  palace  with  a  dignified  protest.  Two  com- 
panies of  sepoys  w^ere  placed  to  guard  him.  These  sepoys 
had  no  ammunition;  they  were  surrounded  by  swarms  of 
the  Rajah's  soldiery  raging  at  the  insult  offered  to  their 
lord.    The  Rajah's  men  fell  upon  the  sepoys  and  cut  them 

270  A   HISTORY   OF   THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  ltiil 

find  thoir  English  officers  to  pieces.  The  Eajah  lowered 
himself  to  the  river  by  a  rope  of  turbans,  crossed  the 
Ganges,  and  shut  himself  up  in  his  stronghold  of  Ram- 
nagar.  Hastings's  life  was  in  imminent  peril.  Had  he 
remained  where  he  was  he  and  his  thirty  Englishmen  and 
his  twenty  sepoys  would  have  been  massacred.  He  fled 
in  the  darkness  of  the  night  to  the  fortress  of  Chunar, 
about  thirty  miles  from  Benares,  where  there  was  a  small 
garrison  of  the  Company's  troops. 

However  rash  Hastings  might  have  been  in  provoking 
the  conflict  with  the  Eajah,  once  it  was  provoked  he  carried 
himself  with  admirable  courage  and  coolness.  Shut  up 
with  a  small  force  in  a  region  blazing  with  armed  rebellion, 
menaced  by  an  army  of  forty  thousand  men,  he  acted  with 
as  much  composure  and  ability  as  if  he  were  the  unques- 
tioned master  of  the  situation.  He  declined  all  offers  of 
assistance  from  the  Vizier  of  Oude,  rejected  all  Chait 
Singh's  overtures  for  peace,  and  issued  his  orders  to  the 
forces  that  were  gradually  rallying  around  him  with  rare 
tact  and  judgment.  In  a  very  short  time  the  wdiole  aspect 
of  affairs  changed.  The  Company's  forces  under  Major 
Popham  defeated  the  Rajah's  troops,  captured  fort  after 
fort,  drove  the  Rajah  to  take  refuge  in  Bundelcund,  and 
brought  the  city  and  district  of  Benares  under  British  rule 
again.  Hastings  immediately  declared  that  the  fugitive 
Rajah's  estates  were  forfeited,  and  he  bestowed  them  upon 
the  Rajah's  nephew  upon  tributary  terms  which  bound  him 
faster  to  the  Company,  and  exacted  double  the  revenue  for- 
merly payable  into  the  Company's  exchequer. 

But  the  money  which  Hastings  so  urgently  needed,  the 
money  for  which  he  had  struck  his  bold  stroke  at  Benares, 
was  still  lacking.  All  the  booty  gained  in  the  reduction 
of  Benares  had  been  divided  among  the  victors;  none  of 
it  had  found  its  way  into  the  Company's  coffers.  The 
Vizier  of  Oude  was  deeply  in  the  Company's  debt,  but  the 
Vizier  of  Oude  was  in  desperately  straitened  circumstances, 
and  could  not  pay  his  debt.  Knowing  Hastings's  need,  the 
Vizier  exposed  to  him  certain  plans  he  had  formed  for 
raising  money   by  seizing  upon  the   estates  of  the  two 

1781.  THE   VIZIER  OF  OUDE  AND    THE   BEGUMS.  271 

Begums,  his  mother,  the  widow  of  the  late  Nawab,  and  his 
grandmother,  the  late  Nawab's  mother.  The  Vizier  may 
have  had  just  claims  enough  upon  the  Begums,  but  it  was 
peculiarly  rash  and  unjustifiable  of  Hastings  to  make 
himself  a  party  to  the  Vizier's  interests.  Hastings,  un- 
happily for  himself,  lent  the  Vizier  the  aid  of  the  Com- 
pany's troops.  The  Begums,  who  were  quite  prepared  to 
resist  their  feeble-spirited  relation,  did  not  go  so  far  as  to 
oppose  the  Company  in  arms.  Their  palace  was  occupied, 
their  treasure  seized,  their  servants  imprisoned,  and  they 
themselves  suffered  discomforts  and  slights  of  a  kind 
which  constituted  very  real  indignities  and  insults  in  the 
eyes  of  Mohammedan  women.  This  was  practically  the 
last,  as  it  was  the  most  foolish,  act  of  Hastings's  rule.  It 
had  the  misfortune  for  him  of  stirring  the  indignant  soul 
of  Burke. 

272  A   HISTORY   OF   THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  ux. 




Burke's  spacious  mind  was  informed  by  a  passion  for 
justice.  He  was  not  cast  in  the  mould  of  men  who  make 
concessions  to  their  virtues  or  compacts  with  their  virtues. 
He  could  not  for  a  moment  admit  that  the  aggrandizement 
of  the  empire  should  be  gained  by  a  single  act  of  injustice, 
and  in  his  eyes  AYarren  Hastings's  career  was  stained  by 
a  long  succession  of  acts  of  injustice.  He  certainly  would 
not  do  evil  that  good  might  come  of  it.  If  the  Rohilla 
war  was  a  crime,  if  the  execution  of  Nand  Kumar  was  an 
infamy,  if  the  deposition  of  Chait  Singh  and  the  plun- 
dering of  the  Begums  were  crimes,  then  no  possible  advan- 
tage that  these  acts  might  cause  to  the  temporal  greatness 
of  the  State  could  weigh  for  one  moment  in  the  balance 
with  Burke.  In  the  high  court  of  Burke^s  mind  Warren 
Hastings  was  a  doomed,  a  degraded  man,  even  though  it 
could  have  been  proved,  as  indeed  it  would  have  been  hard 
to  prove,  that  any  ill  deeds  which  Warren  Hastings  had 
done  were  essential  to  the  maintenance  of  English  rule 
and  English  glory  in  India.  Burke  argued  that  English 
rule  in  India,  English  glory  in  India,  did  not  gain  but  only 
lost  by  ill  deeds.  But  if  England's  gain  and  England's 
glory  in  India  depended  upon  such  deeds,  he  for  his  part 
\\ould  have  refused  the  gain  and  shuddered  at  the  glory. 

If  Burke's  all-conquering  passion  was  a  passion  for  jus- 
tice, perhaps  his  keenest  political  taste  was  for  India  and 
the  affairs  of  India.  At  a  time  when  our  Indian  Empire 
was  merely  in  its  dawn,  at  a  time  when  the  affairs  of  India 
were  looked  upon  by  the  nation  at  large  as  the  commercial 
matters  of  a  company,  Burke  allowed  all  the  resources  of 
his  great  mind  to  be  employed  in  the  study  of  India.    He 

1785.  BURKE'S  KNOWLEDGE    OF   INDIA.  273 

knew  India — he  who  had  never  sailed  its  seas  or  touched 
its  shores — as  probably  no  other  Englishmen  of  his  time 
knew  India,  not  even  those  whose  lives  had  been  for  the 
most  part  passed  in  the  country.  And  this  comprehensive 
knowledge  Burke  was  able  to  impart  again  with  a  readi- 
ness that  was  never  unreliable,  with  a  copiousness  that  was 
never  redundant.  He  gave  a  fascination  to  the  figures  of 
Indian  finance;  he  made  the  facts  of  contemporary  Indian 
history  live  with  all  the  charm  of  the  most  famous  events 
of  Greek  or  Roman  history.  India  in  his  hands  became 
what  it  rightly  is,  but  what  few  had  thought  it  till  then, 
one  of  the  most  fascinating  of  human  studies.  Indian 
affairs  on  his  lips  allied  all  the  allurement  of  a  romance 
with  all  the  statistical  accuracy  of  a  Parliamentary  report. 
Such  a  genius  for  the  presentation  of  facts  inspired  by 
such  a  passion  for  justice  has  enriched  English  literature 
with  some  of  its  noblest  and  most  truthful  pages. 

The  pith  of  all  Burke's  Indian  policy,  the  text  upon 
which  all  his  splendid  sermons  of  Indian  administration 
were  preached,  is  to  be  found  in  one  single  sentence  of  the 
famous  speech  on  the  ^abob  of  Arcot's  debts.  In  that 
single  sentence  the  whole  of  Burke's  theory  of  government 
is  summed  up  with  the  directness  of  an  epigram  and  with 
the  authority  of  a  law.  "  Fraud,  injustice,  oppression, 
peculation,  engendered  in  India,  are  crimes  of  the  same 
blood,  family,  and  caste,  with  those  that  are  born  and 
bred  in  England."  Outside  the  noble  simplicity  of  that 
ethical  doctrine  Burke  could  not  and  would  not  budge. 
That  sentence  represents  the  whole  difference  between  him 
and  the  man  whom  he  afterwards  accused,  between  him 
and  the  men  of  whom  that  man  came  to  be  the  representa- 
tive. Burke's  morality  was  direct,  uncompromising,  un- 
alterable by  climatic  conditions  or  by  the  supple  moralities 
of  other  races.  The  morality  of  Warren  Hastings  and  of 
those  who  thought  with  and  acted  for  Warren  Hastings 
v.^as  the  morality  of  Clive  beforehand,  was  the  morality 
that  had  been  professed  and  practised  time  and  again  since 
the  days  of  Clive  and  Hastings  by  the  inheritors  of  their 
policy  in  India,     The  ingenious  theory  was  set  up  that  in 

274  A    HISTORY   OF   THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lix. 

dealing  with  Oriental  races  it  was  essential  for  the  Eng- 
lishman to  employ  Oriental  means  of  carrying  his  point. 
If  an  Oriental  would  lie  and  cheat  and  forge  and,  if  needs 
were,  murder,  why  then  the  Englishman  dealing  with  him 
must  lie  and  cheat  and  forge  and  murder  too,  in  order  to 
gain  the  day.  Things  that  he  would  not  dare  to  do,  things 
that,  to  do  him  justice,  he  would  not  dream  of  doing  in 
England,  were  not  merely  permissible  but  justifiable,  not 
merely  justifiable  but  essential  in  his  intercourse  with 
Asiatic  princes  and  peoples,  with  dexterous  Mohammedan 
and  dexterous  Hindoo.  The  policy  was  inevitably  new  in 
Burke's  time;  it  has  been  upheld  again  and  again  since 
Burke's  time.  The  theory  which  allowed  Clive  to  forge 
and  Warren  Hastings  to  plunder  was  the  same  principle 
which  led  English  soldiers  three  generations  later  to  make 
Brahmins  wipe  up  blood  before  being  killed,  which  prompt- 
ed them  to  blow  their  prisoners  from  the  cannon's  mouth 
io  the  hope  that  their  victims  should  believe  that  their 
souls  as  well  as  their  bodies  were  about  to  perish,  which 
instigated  gallant  men  to  suggest  in  all  seriousness  the 
advisability  of  flaying  alive  their  captured  mutineers.  The 
influence  of  the  East  is  not  always  a  wholesome  influence 
upon  the  w^anderer  from  the  West.  It  is  displayed  at  its 
worst  when  it  leads  great  men,  as  Clive  and  Hastings  un- 
doubtedly were  great  men,  into  the  perpetration  of  evil 
actions,  and  the  justification  of  them  on  the  principle  that 
in  dealing  with  an  Oriental  the  Englishman's  morality 
undergoes  a  change,  and  becomes  for  the  time  and  the  hour 
an  Oriental  morality. 

Against  such  an  adversary,  Hastings,  ignorant  of  the 
conditions  of  English  political  life,  could  bring  forward 
no  better  champion  than  Major  Scott.  Hastings  opposed 
to  the  greatest  orator  and  most  widely  informed  man  of  his 
age,  a  man  of  meagre  parts,  who  only  succeeded  in  weary- 
ing profoundly  the  House  of  Commons  and  every  other 
audience  to  which  he  appealed.  Such  a  proconsul  as  War- 
ren Hastings  standing  his  trial  upon  such  momentous 
charges  needed  all  the  ability,  all  the  art  that  an  advocate 
can  possess  to  be  employed  in  his  behalf.     Had  Hastings 

1785-8Y.  THE   DEFENDER  OF  HASTINGS.  275 

been  so  lucky  as  to  find  a  defender  endowed,  not  indeed 
with  the  genius  or  the  knowledge  of  Burke,  for  there  was 
no  such  man  to  be  found,  but  with  something  of  the  genius, 
something  of  the  knowledge  of  Burke,  his  case  might  have 
appeared  very  different  then  and  in  the  eyes  of  posterity. 
If  Scott  could  have  pleaded  for  Hastings  eloquently,  brill- 
iantly, with  something  of  the  rich  coloring,  something  of 
the  fervid  enthusiasm  that  was  characteristic  of  the  utter- 
ances of  his  great  antagonist,  he  might  have  done  much 
to  stem,  if  not  to  turn  the  stream  of  public  thought.  But 
Warren  Hastings  was  not  graced  so  far.  His  sins  had  in- 
deed found  him  out  when  he  was  cursed  with  such  an 
enemy  and  cursed  with  such  a  friend. 

It  is  clear  that  Hastings  himself  on  his  return  had  little 
idea  of  the  serious  danger  with  which  he  was  menaced.  He 
seems  to  have  become  convinced  that  his  services  to  the 
State  must  inevitably  outweigh  any  accidents  or  errors  in 
the  execution  of  those  services.  He  honestly  believed  him- 
self to  have  been  a  valuable  and  estimable  servant  of  his 
country  and  his  Crown.  We  may  very  w^ell  take  his  re- 
peated declarations  of  his  own  integrity  and  uprightness, 
not,  indeed,  as  proof  of  his  possession  of  those  qualities, 
but  as  proof  of  his  profound  belief  that  he  did  possess 
them.  When  he  landed  in  England  he  appears  to  have 
expected  only  honors,  only  acclamation,  admiration,  and 
applause.  He  returned  to  accept  a  triumph;  he  did  not 
dream  that  he  should  have  to  face  a  trial. 

The  long  years  in  India  had  served  to  confuse  his  per- 
ception of  the  conduct  of  affairs  at  home.  He  did  not  in 
the  least  appreciate  the  men  with  whom  he  had  to  deal. 
If  he  gauged  pretty  closely  the  malignity  of  Francis,  he 
may  have  fancied  that  the  malignity  was  not  very  likely 
to  prove  dangerous.  But  he  wholly  misunderstood  the 
character  of  the  other  foes,  as  important  as  Francis  was 
unimportant,  who  were  ranged  against  him.  He  made  the 
extraordinary  mistake  of  despising  Burke. 

Hastings  had  certain  anxieties  on  his  return  to  England. 
His  first  was  caused  by  his  disappointment  at  not  finding 
his  wife  in  London  to  greet  him  on  his  arrival,  a  disap- 

276  A    HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lix. 

pointnicnt  that  was  consoled  two  days  later  when,  as  ho 
was  journeying  post-haste  to  the  country  to  join  her,  he 
met  her  on  Maidenhead  Bridge  driving  in  to  join  him.  His 
second  was  the  pleasurable  anxiety  of  negotiating  for  the 
jHirchase  of  Daylesford,  the  realization  of  his  youthful 
dream.  He  was  made  a  little  anxious  too,  later  on,  by  the 
delay  in  the  awarding  to  him  of  those  honors  which  he  so 
confidently  expected.  But  he  does  not  seem  to  have  been 
disturbed  in  any  appreciable  degree  by  the  formidable 
preparations  which  were  being  made  against  him  by  Burke 
and  Fox  and  the  followers  of  Burke  and  Fox. 

It  is  just  possible  that  those  preparations  might  have 
come  to  little  or  nothing  but  for  the  folly  of  Major  Scott. 
Major  Scott  was  mad  enough  to  try  and  force  the  hand 
of  the  enemies  of  Hastings  by  calling  upon  Burke  and  Fox 
to  fix  a  day  for  the  charges  that  they  were  understood  to 
be  prepared  to  bring  against  him.  Fox  immediately  rose 
to  assure  Major  Scott  that  the  matter  was  not  forgotten. 
Burke,  with  grave  composure,  added  that  a  general  did  not 
take  choice  of  time  and  place  of  battle  from  his  adversaries. 
It  has  been  suggested  that  but  for  Major  Scott's  ill-advised 
zeal  the  attack  might  never  have  come  to  a  head.  But  the 
conclusion  is  one  which  it  would  be  rash  to  draw.  Burke 
was  not  the  man  to  forego  his  long-cherished  hope  of  bring- 
ing a  criminal  to  justice.  If  he  had  been  inclined  to  forego 
it,  he  w^as  not  the  kind  of  man  to  be  goaded  into  unwilling 
resumption  of  his  purpose  by  the  taunts  of  Major  Scott. 
It  may  surely  be  assumed  that  the  impeachment  of  Warren 
Hastings  would  have  been  made  even  if  Major  Scott  had 
been  as  wise  and  discreet  as  he  proved  himself  to  be  unwise 
and  indiscreet. 

Even  when  the  attack  was  formally  begun,  Hastings 
failed  to  grasp  its  gravity  or  guess  the  best  mode  of  meeting 
it.  He  insisted  upon  being  heard  at  the  Bar  of  the  House 
in  his  own  defence.  A  man  of  rare  oratorical  abilit}^ 
gifted  with  special  skill  in  the  selection  of  his  material 
and  the  adjustment  of  his  arguments,  might  have  done 
himself  a  good  turn  by  such  a  decision.  But  Hastings  was 
not  so  endowed,  and  he  w^ould  have  done  far  better  in 

1787.  PITT   AND   THE   IMPEACHMENT.  277 

following  the  example  of  Clive  and  of  Rumbold.  He  com- 
mitted the  one  fault  which  the  House  of  Commons  never 
forgives,  he  wearied  it.  Such  dramatic  effect  as  he  might 
have  got  out  of  his  position  as  a  proconsul  arraigned  be- 
fore a  senate  he  spoiled  by  the  length  and  tedium  of  his 
harangue.  He  took  two  days  to  read  a  long  and  wordy  de- 
fence, two  days  which  he  considered  all  too  short,  and 
which  the  House  of  Commons  found  all  too  long.  It 
yawned  while  Hastings  prosed.  Accustomed  to  an  average 
of  eloquence  of  which  the  art  has  long  been  lost,  it  found 
Hastings's  paper  insufferably  wearisome. 

Although  he  was  the  target  for  the  eloquence  of  Burke, 
of  Fox,  and  of  Sheridan,  still  Hastings's  hopes  were  high, 
and  they  mounted  higher  when  the  Eohilla  war  charge  was 
rejected  by  a  large  majority.  But  they  were  only  raised 
so  high  to  be  dashed  to  earth  again  in  the  most  unexpected 
manner.  The  friends  of  Hastings  were  convinced  that  he 
would  have  the  unfailing  support  of  Pitt  in  his  defence. 
He  was  now  to  learn  that  he  was  mistaken. 

Hastings  had  one  very  zealous  champion  in  the  House 
of  Commons.  This  was  a  young  member,  Sir  James 
Bland-Burges.  He  rose  not  merely  with  the  approval  of 
Pitt,  but  actually  at  Pitt's  instigation,  to  defend  Warren 
Hastings  on  the  question  of  the  treatment  of  the  Rajah 
of  Benares.  It  is  scarcely  surprising  that  the  House  did 
not  pay  him  any  great  attention.  Having  just  come  under 
"  the  spell  of  the  enchanter,"  it  would  hardly  have  listened 
with  attention  to  an  old  and  well-known  member,  and 
Bland-Burges  was  a  young  and  unknown  man.  He  could 
not  command  a  hearing,  so,  whispering  to  Pitt  that  he 
would  leave  the  remainder  of  the  defence  to  him,  he  sat 
do^vn,  and  the  debate,  on  Pitt's  suggestion,  was  adjourned. 

On  the  following  day  the  young  defender  came  to  the 
House  hot  to  hear  Pitt  deliver  to  an  attentive  senate  that 
defence  which  he  had  striven  unsuccessfully  to  make.  He 
has  recorded  the  astonishment,  indignation,  and  despair 
when  Pitt  rose  to  make  his  declaration  concerning  the 
charge  against  Hastings.  The  minister  in  whom  Hastings 
trusted  to  find  an  allv  offered  some  cold  condemnation  of 

278  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lix. 

tlie  intemperance  of  the  attack,  proffered  some  lukewarm 
praise  to  Hastings,  and  then  announced  that  he  would 
agree  to  the  motion.  To  most  of  Pitt's  supporters  Pitf  s 
action  came  as  an  unpleasant  surprise;  but  to  Bland- 
Burges,  from  his  previous  conversation  with  the  minister, 
it  seemed  like  an  act  of  treason.  There  was  little  for 
Bland-Burges  to  do,  but  it  is  to  his  credit  that  he  did  that 
little.  It  required  no  small  courage  for  a  follower  and  a 
friend  of  Pitt  to  defy  his  authority  in  the  House.  Yet 
that  is  practically  what  Bland-Burges  did.  Paging  with 
indignation  at  what  he  conceived  to  be  the  tergiversation 
of  his  leader  and  the  treachery  to  his  hero,  Bland-Burges 
once  again  forced  himself  upon  the  attention  of  the  House. 
The  leaders  on  both  sides  being  agreed,  it  was  expected  that 
the  matter  would  be  settled  out  of  hand,  and  the  Speaker 
had  actually  put  the  question  and  declared  it  carried  when 
Bland-Burges  leaped  to  his  feet  and  challenged  a  division. 
He  acted  with  the  courage  of  his  despair,  but,  as  he  says, 
few  unpremeditated  enterprises  ever  succeeded  better  than 
this  one.  "  The  question  indeed  was  carried  by  a  great 
majority,  but  those  who  were  against  it  were  almost  en- 
tirely of  those  who  till  then  had  implicitly  voted  with  the 
minister.  This  was  not  only  mortifying  to  Mr.  Pitt,  but 
highly  encouraging  to  Mr.  Hastings  and  his  steadfast 

Bland-Burges  did  not  escape  an  early  intimation  of  the 
disapproval  of  his  chief.  When  the  House  broke  up,  Pitt 
said  to  him,  with  an  austere  look,  "  So,  sir,  you  have 
thought  proper  to  divide  the  House.  I  hope  you  are  satis- 
fied.'' Bland-Burges  answered  that  he  was  perfectly  satis- 
fied. "  Then  you  seem  satisfied  very  easily,"  the  minister 
retorted ;  to  which  Bland-Burges  replied,  "  Not  exactly 
so,  sir.  I  am  satisfied  with  nothing  that  has  passed  this 
evening  except  the  discovery  I  have  made  that  there  were 
still  honest  men  present."  "On  that,"  Bland-Burges 
continues,  "  with  a  stern  look  and  a  stately  air  he  left 

Bland-Burges  won  a  reward  for  his  courage  which  out- 
weighed the  disapproval  of  Pitt.     When  he  had  thus  vol- 


"unteered  on  behalf  of  AVarren  Hastings  he  was  so  entirely 
a  stranger  to  him  that  he  did  not  even  know  him  by  sight. 
Xaturally  enough,  however,  the  arraigned  man  was  de- 
sirous to  become  acquainted  with  the  stranger  who  had 
stood  by  him  when  his  own  friends  had  abandoned  him. 
He  lost  no  time,  therefore,  in  calling  upon  Bland-Burges 
to  thank  him  for  the  part  he  had  played.  Bland-Burges 
says  that  the  conversation  was  deeply  interesting,  but  that 
he  only  made  a  note  of  one  passage,  in  which  he  explained 
that,  independently  of  his  own  conviction  that  the  cause 
of  Warren  Hastings  was  just  and  honorable,  he  had  been 
moved  to  take  part  in  his  defence  by  the  positive  instruc- 
tions of  his  father,  who  had  died  about  two  3^ears  pre- 
viously. Bland-Burges's  father,  attributing  the  preserva- 
tion of  England^s  power  in  India  to  Hastings,  had  enjoined 
his  son,  if  ever  an  attack  were  made  upon  Hastings,  to 
abstract  himself  from  all  personal  and  party  considerations 
and  to  support  him  liberally  and  manfully.  Whatever  we 
may  think  of  the  conduct  of  Warren  Hastings,  it  is  a 
pleasure  to  find  that  those  who  thought  him  to  be  in  the 
right  stood  up  for  their  belief  as  honorably  and  as  gal- 
lantly as  Bland-Burges.  It  is  not  surprising  that  Warren 
Hastings  was  moved  to  tears.  That  day's  interview  was 
the  beginning  of  a  friendship  that  endured  unbroken  until 
the  death  of  Warren  Hastings. 

The  reason  which  Pitt  gave  for  his  action  on  the 
Benares  vote  was  simple  enough.  He  said  that,  although 
the  action  of  Hastings  towards  the  Eajah  was  in  itself 
justifiable,  yet  that  the  manner  of  the  action  was  not 
justifiable.  Chait  Singh  deserved  to  be  fined,  but  not  to 
be  fined  in  an  exorbitant  and  tyrannical  manner.  The  ex- 
planation might  very  well  be  considered  sufficient.  A 
high-minded  minister  might  feel  bound  to  condemn  the 
conduct  of  an  official  whom  he  admired,  if  that  conduct 
had  pushed  a  legal  right  to  an  illegal  length.  But  Pitt's 
decision  came  with  such  a  shock  to  the  friends,  and  even 
to  the  enemies  of  Hastings,  that  public  rumor  immediate- 
ly set  to  work  to  find  some  other  less  simple  and  less  honest 
reason  for  Pitt's  action.     One  rumor  ascribed  it  to  an  in- 

280  A   IlISTOKY  OF  THE  POUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lix. 

ierview  with  Dundas,  in  which  Dundas  had  succeeded, 
after  hours  of  argument,  in  inducing  Pitt  to  throw  War- 
ren Hastings  over.  Another  suggested  that  Pitt  was 
spurred  by  anger  at  a  declaration  of  Thurlow's  that  he 
and  the  King  between  them  would  make  Hastings  a  peer, 
whether  the  minister  would  or  no.  A  third  suggested  that 
Pitt  was  jealous  of  the  ro3^al  favor  to  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Has- 
tings; while  a  fourth  asserted  that  Pitt  deliberately  sacri- 
ficed Hastings  in  order  to  afford  the  Opposition  other 
quarry  than  himself.  But  there  is  no  need  to  seek  for 
any  other  motive  than  the  motive  which  Pitt  alleged.  It 
was  quite  sufficient  to  compel  an  honorable  man  to  give 
the  vote  that  Pitt  gave. 

Blow  after  blow  fell  upon  Hastings.  The  terrible  at- 
tacks of  Burke  were  for  a  time  eclipsed  by  the  dazzling 
brilliancy  of  Sheridan's  attack  upon  him  in  the  famous 
Begum  speech.  Those  who  heard  that  speech  speak  of  it 
with  reverence  and  with  passion  as  one  of  the  masterpieces 
of  the  world.  In  the  form  in  which  it  is  preserved,  or 
rather  in  which  it  has  failed  to  be  preserved  for  us,  it 
is  hard,  if  not  impossible,  to  find  merit  calling  for  the 
rapture  which  it  aroused  in  the  minds  of  men  familiar 
with  magnificent  oratory,  and  perfectly  competent  to 
judge.  That  it  did  arouse  rapture  is  beyond  doubt,  and 
for  the  moment  it  was  even  more  effective  in  injuring 
Hastings  than  the  more  profound  but  less  flaming  utter- 
ances of  Burke.  The  testimony  of  Fox,  the  testimony  of 
B3Ton,  alike  are  offered  in  its  unqualified  praise. 

It  was  decided  by  the  House  of  Commons,  with  the  con- 
sent of  Pitt,  that  Hastings  should  be  impeached.  One  in- 
dignity Pitt  spared  him,  one  danger  Pitt  saved  him  from. 
Burke  was,  somewhat  incomprehensibly,  anxious  that  the 
name  of  Francis  should  be  placed  upon  that  Committee  of 
Impeachment  to  which  Burke  had  already  been  nominated 
as  the  first  member  by  Pitt.  But  here  Pitt  was  resolute. 
Francis  was  flagrantly  hostile  to  Hastings,  hostile  with  a 
personal  as  well  as  a  public  hatred,  and  Pitt  could  not 
tolerate  the  notion  that  he  should  find  a  place  upon  the 
Committee  of  Impeachment.     Burke  protested,  and   the 


very  protest  was  characteristic  of  Burke's  high-mindedness. 
For  to  Burke  the  whole  business  was  a  purely  public  busi- 
ness, in  no  sense  connected  with  any  private  feelings,  and 
it  seemed  to  him  as  if  the  exclusion  of  any  one  of  those 
who  had  been  conspicuous  in  the  arraignment  of  Hastings 
from  a  responsible  place  on  the  Committee  of  Impeach- 
ment on  the  ground  of  personal  feeling  was  to  cast  some- 
thing like  a  slur  upon  the  purity  of  motive  of  the  men 
engaged  in  the  attack.  But  Pitt  was  in  the  right,  and  the 
name  of  Francis  was,  by  a  large  majorit}^,  not  suffered  to 
appear  upon  the  committee. 

In  the  May  of  1787  Burke  formally  impeached  Warren 
Hastings  at  the  Bar  of  the  House  of  Lords.  Hastings  was 
immediately  taken  into  custody  by  the  Sergeant-at-Arms, 
and  was  held  to  bail  for  £20,000,  with  two  sureties  for 
£10,000  each.  The  delay  which  was  to  be  characteristic 
of  the  whole  proceedings  was  evident  from  the  first. 
Though  Hastings  was  taken  into  custody  in  the  May  of 

1787,  it  was  not  until  February  13  of  the  following  year, 

1788,  that  the  impeached  man  was  brought  to  his  trial  in 
Vv'estminster  Hall. 

Before  the  trial  began,  popular  feeling  was  roused 
against  Hastings  more  keenly  by  the  action  of  the  Court 
than  by  the  action  of  Burke  and  of  his  colleagues.  The 
Court  was  inclined  to  be  even  more  than  friendly  to  Has- 
tings and  to  his  wife,  and  both  Hastings  and  his  wife,  who 
were  not  in  touch  with  English  public  opinion,  took  the 
unwise  course  of  making  the  very  most  of  the  royal  favor, 
and  of  displaying  themselves  as  much  as  possible  in  the 
royal  sunlight.  The  London  public,  always  jealous  of  any 
Court  favoritism,  resented  the  patronage  of  Hastings,  and 
while  it  was  in  this  temper  an  event  took  place  which 
served  to  heighten  its  resentment.  The  Nizam  of  the 
Deccan  had  sent  a  very  magnificent  diamond  to  the  King 
as  a  present,  and,  being  ignorant  of  what  was  going  on  in 
England,  he  chose  Hastings,  naturally  enough,  as  the 
medium  through  which  to  convey  his  diamond  to  the  King. 
Hastings,  with  the  want  of  judgment  which  characterized 
him  at  this  time,  accepted  a  duty  which,  delicate  at  any 

282  A   lllSTUliY   OF   TUE  FOLK   GEORGES.  ch.lix. 

time,  became  under  the  conditions  positively  dangerous. 
He  was  present  at  the  Levee  at  which  the  diamond  was 
presented  to  the  King.  Immediately  rumor  seized  upon 
the  incident  and  distorted  it.  It  was  confidently  asserted 
tliat  Hastings  was  bribing  the  Sovereign  with  vast  presents 
of  precious  stones  to  use  his  influence  in  his  behalf.  The 
solitary  diamond  became  in  the  popular  eye  more  numerous 
than  the  stones  that  Sinbad  came  upon  in  the  enchanted 
valley.  The  print-shops  teemed  with  caricatures,  all  giv- 
ing some  highly  colored  exaggeration  of  the  prevailing  im- 
pression. Every  possible  pictorial  device  which  could  sug- 
gest to  the  passer-by  that  Hastings  was  buying  the  pro- 
tection of  the  King  by  fabulous  gifts  of  diamonds  was 
made  public.  In  one  Hastings  was  shown  flinging  quan- 
tities of  precious  stones  into  the  open  mouth  of  the  King. 
In  another  he  was  represented  as  having  bought  the  King 
bodily,  crown  and  sceptre  and  all,  with  his  precious 
stones,  and  as  carrying  him  away  in  a  wheelbarrow.  So 
high  did  popular  feeling  run  that  the  great  diamond  be- 
came the  hero  of  a  discussion  in  the  House  of  Commons, 
when  Major  Scott  was  obliged  to  make  a  statement  in  his 
chief's  behalf  giving  an  accurate  account  of  what  had 
really  occurred. 

The  trial  of  Warren  Hastings  is  one  of  the  most  re- 
markable examples  of  contrasts  in  human  affairs  that  is 
to  be  found  in  the  whole  course  of  our  history.  It  began 
under  conditions  of  what  may  fairly  be  called  national  in- 
terest. It  came  to  an  end  amid  the  apathy  and  indifference 
of  the  public.  When  it  began,  the  Great  Hall  of  West- 
minster was  scarcely  large  enough  to  contain  all  those 
who  longed  to  be  present  at  the  trial  of  the  great  proconsul. 
All  the  rank,  the  wealth,  the  genius,  the  wit,  the  beauty  of 
England  seemed  to  be  gathered  together  in  the  building, 
which  is  said  to  be  the  oldest  inhabited  building  in  the 
world.  When  it  ended,  and  long  before  it  had  ended,  the 
attendance  liad  dwindled  down  to  a  mere  handful  of  spec- 
tators, some  two  or  three  score  of  persons  whose  patience, 
whose  interest,  or  whose  curiosity  had  survived  the  in- 
difference with  w^hich  the  rest  of  the  world  had  come  to 


regard  the  whole  business.  The  spirit  of  genius  and  the 
spirit  of  dulness  met  in  close  encounter  in  that  memorable 
arena,  and  it  must  be  admitted  that  the  spirit  of  dulness 
did  on  the  whole  prevail.  There  seemed  a  time  when  it 
was  likely  that  the  trial  might  go  on  forever.  Men  and 
women  who  came  to  the  first  hearing  eager  on  the  one  side 
or  the  other,  impassioned  for  Hastings  or  enthusiastic  for 
Burke,  died  and  were  buried,  and  new  men  and  women 
occupied  themselves  with  other  things,  and  still  the  trial 
dragged  its  slow  length  along. 

It  may  be  unhesitatingly  admitted  that  during  the  long 
course  of  the  trial  Warren  Hastings  bore  himself  with 
courage  and  with  dignity.  He  was  firmly  convinced  that 
he  was  a  much-injured  man,  and  if  the  justice  of  a  man's 
cause  were  to  be  decided  merely  upon  the  demeanor  of  the 
defendant,  Hastings  would  have  been  exonerated.  He  pro- 
fessed to  be  horrified,  and  he  no  doubt  was  horrified,  by 
what  he  called  "  the  atrocious  calumnies  of  Mr.  Burke  and 
Mr.  Fox."  He  carried  himself  as  if  they  were  indeed 
atrocious  calumnies  without  any  basis  whatsoever.  His 
attitude  was  that  of  the  martyr  supported  by  the  serenity 
of  the  saint.  He  had  lived  so  long  in  the  East  that  he 
gained  not  a  little  of  that  Eastern  fortitude  which  is  the 
fortitude  of  fatalism.  While  the  trial  was  progressing  he 
told  a  dear  friend  that  he  found  much  consolation  in  a 
certain  Oriental  tale.  The  story  was  of  an  Indian  king 
whose  temper  never  knew  a  medium,  and  w^ho  in  pros- 
perity was  hurried  into  extravagance  by  his  joy,  while  in 
adversity  grief  overwhelmed  him  with  despondency.  Hav- 
ing suffered  many  inconveniences  through  this  weakness, 
he  besought  his  courtiers  to  devise  a  sentence,  short  enough 
to  be  engraved  upon  a  ring,  which  should  suggest  a  remedy 
for  his  evil.  Many  phrases  w^ere  proposed;  none  were 
found  acceptable  until  his  daughter  offered  him  an 
emerald  on  which  were  graven  two  Arabic  words,  the  lit- 
eral translation  of  which  is,  "  This,  too,  will  pass."  The 
King  em.braced  his  daughter  and  declared  that  she  was 
wiser  than  all  his  wise  men.  "  ]^ow,"  said  Hastings, 
•'  when  I  appear  at  the  Bar  and  hear  the  violent  invectives 

284  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lix. 

of  my  enemies,  I  arm  myself  with  patience.  I  reflect  upon 
the  mutability  of  human  life,  and  I  say  to  myself,  ^  This, 
too,  will  pass/  " 

It  did  pass,  but  it  took  its  long  time  to  pass.  The  trial 
lasted  seven  years.  Begun  in  the  February  of  1788,  it 
ended  in  the  April  of  1795.  In  that  long  space  of  time 
men  might  well  be  excused  if  they  had  grown  weary  of  it. 
Had  its  protracted  course  been  even  pursued  in  colorless, 
eventless  times  it  would  have  been  hard  to  preserve  the 
public  interest  in  the  trial  so  terribly  drawn  out.  But  it 
was  one  of  the  curious  fortunes  of  the  trial  to  embrace 
within  its  compass  some  of  the  most  thrilling  and  momen- 
tous years  that  have  been  recorded  in  the  history  of  man- 
kind. In  the  year  after  the  trial  began  the  Bastille  fell. 
In  the  year  before  the  trial  closed  the  Reign  of  Terror 
came  to  an  end  with  the  deaths  of  Eobespierre  and  St. 
Just.  The  interval  had  seen  the  whole  progress  of  the 
French  Revolution,  had  applauded  the  constitutional  strug- 
gle for  liberty,  had  shuddered  at  the  September  massacres, 
had  seen  the  disciplined  armies  of  the  great  European 
Powers  reel  back  dismayed  before  the  ragged  regiments 
of  the  Republic,  had  seen  France  answer  Europe  with  the 
head  of  a  king,  with  the  head  of  a  queen,  had  observed 
how  the  Revolution,  like  Saturn,  devoured  its  own  chil- 
dren, had  witnessed  with  fear  as  well  as  with  fury  the 
apotheosis  of  the  guillotine.  While  the  events  in  France 
were  shaking  every  European  State,  including  England, 
to  its  centre,  it  was  hard  for  the  public  mind  to  keep  itself 
fixed  with  any  degree  of  intentness  upon  the  trial  of 
Warren  Hastings. 

The  events  of  that  interval  had  affected  too,  profoundly, 
the  chief  actor  in  the  trial.  Burke  entered  upon  the  im- 
peachment of  Warren  Hastings  at  the  zenith  of  his  great 
career,  at  the  moment  of  his  greatest  glory.  The  rise  and 
progress  of  the  French  evolution  exercised  a  profound,  even 
a  disastrous,  efl'ect  upon  him.  For  once  his  fine  intellect 
failed  to  discriminate  between  the  essentials  and  the  non- 
essentials of  a  great  question.  His  horror  at  the  atrocities 
of  the  Revolution  blinded  him  to  all  the  advantages  that 

1788-95.  ACQUITTAL   OF  HASTINGS.  285 

the  success  of  the  Revolution  brought  with  it.  The  whole 
framework  of  that  great  event  was  to  him  so  hideously 
stained  with  the  blood  of  the  Queen,  with  the  blood  of  so 
many  innocent  persons,  that  he  could  see  nothing  but  the 
blood,  and  the  influence  of  this  is  to  be  noticed  in  Burke's 
final  speech  with  its  almost  confident  expectation  that 
the  guillotine  would  sooner  or  later  be  established  in  Eng- 
land. Burke's  frenzy  against  the  French  Revolution  made 
it  appear  to  many  as  if  his  reasoned  and  careful  indict- 
ment of  the  erring  Governor-General  might  after  all  be 
only  mere  frenzy  too. 

Such  as  it  was,  and  under  such  conditions,  the  trial  did 
come  to  an  end  at  last,  after  such  alternations  of  brilliant 
speeches  and  dull  speeches  as  the  world  had  never  wit- 
nessed before.  Sheridan  again  added  to  his  fame  by  a 
speech  of  which,  unhappily,  we  are  able  to  form  no  very 
clear  idea.  Law  defended  Hastings  in  detailing  the  whole 
of  the  history  of  Hindostan.  Hastings  again  and  again 
appealed  piteously  and  pathetically  that  the  trial  might  be 
brought  somehow  or  other  to  an  end.  He  was  growing 
old,  he  had  been  for  years  a  nominal  prisoner,  he  was  very 
anxious  that  the  terrible  strain  of  waiting  upon  the  slow 
proceedings  of  the  tribunal  should  be  relieved.  At  last 
the  end  came  after  weary  years  of  controversy,  in  which 
Hastings  had  been  loaded  with  more  contumely  and  lauded 
with  more  extravagance  than  it  were  possible  to  conceive 
liim  good  enough  or  bad  enough  to  deserve.  Finally,  in 
the  April  of  1795,  Warren  Hastings  was  acquitted  by  a 
large  majority  on  every  one  of  the  sixteen  counts  against 
him  that  were  put  to  the  vote.  Burke  could  not  conceal  his 
chagrin  at  this  unexpected  result.  He  had  expected,  he 
declared  afterwards,  that  the  corruption  of  the  age  would 
enable  Hastings  to  escape  on  some  of  the  counts,  but  he 
was  not  prepared  for  the  total  acquittal.  It  is  probable 
that  Hastings  himself  was  not  prepared  for  it,  but  the  re- 
lief it  afforded  him  was  tempered  by  the  grave  financial 
ditficulties  into  which  he  found  himself  plunged.  The 
conduct  of  that  long  defence  had  well-nigh  exhausted  all 
his  available  resources.     After  a  vain  appeal  to  Pitt  to 

28G  A   HISTORY   OF   THE   FOUR   CEORGES.  ch.  ux. 

indemnify  him  for  his  legal  expenses,  an  arrangement  was 
come  to  between  the  Government  and  the  Company  by 
which  Hastings  was  enabled  to  live  at  first  in  straitened, 
afterwards  in  moderate,  circumstances  for  the  rest  of  his 

It  can  scarcely  be  questioned  but  that  Burke  was  in  some 
degree  responsible  for  the  result  of  the  trial.  His  burning 
sense  of  injustice,  his  passionate  righteousness,  and  the 
perfervid  strength  of  his  convictions  betrayed  him  into 
an  intemperance  of  language  that  inevitably  caused  a  re- 
action of  sympathy  in  favor  of  the  man  so  violently  as- 
sailed. It  is  impossible  to  read  without  regret  the  actual 
ferocity  of  the  epithets  that  Burke  hurled  against  Warren 
Hastings.  In  this  he  was  followed,  even  exceeded,  by 
Sheridan;  but  the  utterances  of  Sheridan,  while  they  en- 
raptured their  hearers  by  their  brilliancy,  did  not  carry 
with  them  the  weight  that  attached  to  the  utterances  of 
Burke.  Burke's  case  was  too  strong  to  need  an  over- 
charged form  of  expression.  The  plain  statement  of  the 
misdeeds  of  Warren  Hastings  was  far  more  telling  as  an 
indictment  thnn  the  abuse  with  which  Burke  unhappily 
was  tempted  to  overload  his  case.  Those  who  were  amazed 
and  sickened,  with  Macaulay,  to  think  that  in  that  age 
any  one  could  be  found  capable  of  calling  the  greatest  of 
living  public  men,  *'  that  reptile  Mr.  Burke,''  must  reluc- 
tantly be  compelled  to  admit  that  Burke  set  his  enemies  a 
bad  example  by  his  own  unlicensed  use  of  opprobrium.  In 
justifying,  for  instance,  the  application  to  Warren  Has- 
tings of  Coke's  savage  description  of  Raleigh  as  a  "  spider 
of  hell,"  Burke  allowed  his  fierce  indignation  to  get  the 
better  of  his  tongue,  to  the  detriment  of  his  own  object, 
the  bringing  of  an  offender  to  justice.  Miss  Burney  in  her 
memoirs  affords  a  remarkable  instance  of  the  injury  which 
Burke  did  to  his  own  object  by  the  exuberance  of  his  anger. 
She  tells  us  how,  as  she  listened  to  Burke's  arraignment 
of  Hastings,  and  went  over  the  catalogue  of  his  offences, 
she  felt  her  sympathy  for  Hastings  slowly  disappear,  but 
that  as  Burke  increased  in  the  furv  of  his  assault,  and 
passed  from  accusation  to  invective,  the  convincing  effect 

1788-95.        EFFECT   OF  THE   IMPEACHMEXT   TRIAL.  287 

of  his  oratory  withered,  and  the  effect  which  he  had  so  care- 
fully created  he  himself  contrived  to  destroy. 

In  spite  of  defects  which  in  some  degree  brought  their 
own  punishment  with  them,  Burke's  speeches  against  War- 
ren Hastings  must  ever  remain  among  the  highest  ex- 
amples of  human  eloquence  employed  in  the  service  of  the 
right.  The  gifts  of  the  statesman,  the  philosopher,  the 
orator,  the  great  man  of  letters,  are  all  allied  in  those 
marvellous  pages  which  first  taught  Englishmen  how 
closely  their  national  honor  as  well  as  their  national  pros- 
perity was  involved  in  the  administration  of  justice  in 
India.  If  Burke  failed  to  convict  Warren  Hastings,  he 
succeeded  in  convicting  the  system  which  made  such  mis- 
demeanors as  Warren  Hastings's  possible.  We  owe  to 
Burke  a  new  India.  What  had  been  but  the  appanage  of 
a  corrupt  and  corrupting  Company  he  practically  made 
forever  a  part  of  the  glory  and  the  grandeur  of  the  British 

Abuse  and  invective  were  not  confined  to  Burke  nor  to 
the  side  which  Burke  represented.  Warren  Hastings,  or 
those  who  acted  for  Warren  Hastings,  employed  every 
means  in  their  power  to  blacken  the  characters  of  their 
opponents  and  to  hold  them  up  to  public  ridicule  and  to 
public  detestation.  The  times  were  not  gentle  times  for 
men  engaged  in  political  warfare,  and  the  companions  of 
Hastings  employed  all  the  arts  that  the  times  placed  at 
their  disposal.  Burke  and  Sheridan,  and  those  who  acted 
with  Burke  and  Sheridan,  were  savage  enough  in  the  trib- 
une, but  they  did  not  employ  the  extra-tribunal  methods 
by  which  their  enemy  retaliated  upon  them. 

Hastings  is  scarcely  to  be  blamed,  considering  duly  the 
temper  of  his  age,  for  doing  everything  that  party  warfare 
permitted  against  his  opponents.  He  was  fighting  as  for 
his  life;  he  was  fighting  for  what  was  far  dearer  to  him 
than  life — for  life,  indeed,  he  had  ever  shown  a  most 
soldierly  disregard ;  he  was  fighting  for  an  honorable  name, 
for  the  reward  of  a  lifetime  devoted  to  the  interests  of  his 
countrv,  as  he  understood  those  interests;  he  was  fighting 
for  fame  as  against  infamy,  and  he  fought  hard  and  he 

288  A    niSTORV   OF   THK   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lix. 

fought  after  the  fashion  of  tlie  time  in  which  he  lived. 
The  newspaper,  the  pamphlet,  the  lampoon,  the  carricature. 
the  acidulated  satire,  the  envenomed  epigram,  all  were 
used,  and  used  with  success,  against  the  promoters  of  the 

The  caricatures  were  not  all  on  one  side,  but  the  most 
numerous  and  the  most  effective  were  in  favor  of  the  im- 
peached statesman.  If  the  adversaries  of  Hastings  natu- 
rally seized  upon  the  opportunity  of  a  classical  effect  by 
presenting  Burke  and  Hastings  in  the  character  of  Cicero 
and  Verres,  the  friends  of  Verres  replied  by  the  pencil  of 
Gillray,  representing  Hastings  as  the  savior  of  India  de- 
fending himself  heroically  against  assassins  with  the  faces 
of  Burke  and  of  Fox.  As  the  interest  in  the  trial  flagged 
the  caricatures  grew  fewer  and  fewer,  to  revive  a  little  at 
the  close  of  the  case.  The  popular  view  of  the  trial  was 
then  represented  fairly  enough  by  a  large  print  called 
"  The  Last  Scene  of  the  ^Tanager's  Farce,"  in  which  Has- 
tings w^as  represented  as  rising  in  glory  from  the  clouds  of 
calumny,  while  Burke  and  Fox  are  represented  witnessing 
with  despair  the  failure  of  their  protracted  farce,  and  the 
crafty  face  of  Philip  Francis  peeped  from  behind  a  scene 
where  he  was  supposed  to  be  playing  the  part  of  the 
prompter — "  no  character  in  the  farce,  but  very  useful 
behind  the  scenes,"  a  description  which  sums  up  smartly 
enough  the  part  that  Philip  Francis  played  in  the  whole 
transaction  from  first  to  last. 

The  eve  of  Hastings's  life  was  as  peaceful  as  its  noon 
and  day  had  been  stormy.  The  proconsul  became  a  coun- 
try squire;  the  ruler  of  an  empire,  the  autocrat  of  kings, 
soothed  his  old  age  very  much  after  the  fashion  of  Dio- 
cletian and  of  Candide,  in  the  planting  of  cabbages.  For 
three-and-twenty  years  he  dwelt  at  Daylesford,  happy  in 
his  wife,  happy  in  his  friends,  happy  in  his  health,  in  his 
rustic  tastes,  in  his  simple  pleasures,  in  his  tranquil  occu- 
pation. He  and  his  wife  often  visited  London,  but  Has- 
tings seems  to  have  been  always  happiest  in  the  country, 
and  he  gradually  declined  into  extreme  old  age  with  all 
the  grace  and  dignity  of  a  Roman  gentleman,  loved  by  his 

1818.  DEATH   OF    HASTINGS.  289 

friends,  dearl}^  loved  by  those  who  were  young.  Once  in 
those  long  quiet  years,  after  the  death  of  Pitt,  Hastings, 
to  please  his  wife,  pleaded  for  public  reparation  of  the 
wrong  which  he  believed  had  been  done  him.  Grenville 
professed  every  willingness  to  grant  him  a  peerage,  but 
refused  to  entertain  the  idea  of  inducing  the  Commons  to 
reverse  their  former  judgment.  On  those  terms  Hastings 
declined  the  peerage.  The  nearest  approach  to  anything 
like  public  consolation  for  his  sorrows  came  to  him  in  1813, 
when,  at  the  age  of  eighty,  he  came  once  more  to  the  Bar 
of  the  House  of  Commons,  this  time  to  give  evidence  on  the 
question  of  renewing  the  Charter  of  the  East  India  Com- 
pany. By  both  Houses,  Commons  and  Lords  alike,  the 
old  man  was  greeted  with  the  greatest  enthusiasm,  saluted 
with  rapturous  applause  on  his  arrival,  with  reverential 
salutations  on  his  departure.  In  1818  the  health  which 
he  had  preserved  so  well  till  then  broke,  and  he  died  after 
some  severe  suffering  on  August  22  in  that  year,  and  was 
laid  in  the  earth  that  he  had  alw^ays  loved  so  well. 

One  of  the  latest  acts  of  his  life  was  to  appeal  to  the 
Court  of  Directors  to  make  some  provision  for  his  wife, 
by  extending  to  her  the  annuity  that  had  been  accorded  to 
him.  They  gave,  says  his  most  devoted  biographer,  no 
more  heed  to  his  dying  entreaties  than  they  would  have 
given  to  the  whine  of  a  self -convicted  beggar.  Yet  surely 
Hastings  had  deserved  well  of  the  East  India  Company. 
His  faults  had  been  committed  in  their  service  and  had 
given  them,  not  himself,  wealth  and  power.  But  England 
is  not  always  grateful  to  her  servants.  It  is  not  wonder- 
ful, says  Sir  Alfred  Lyall,  that  Hastings's  application 
failed  entirely,  "  remembering  that  even  Lord  Xelson's 
last  testamentary  appeal  on  behalf  of  a  woman — ^  the 
only  favor  I  ask  of  my  King  and  my  country  at  the  mo- 
ment when  I  am  going  to  fight  their  battle ' — had  been 
rejected  and  utterly  disregarded."  Mrs.  Hastings  sur- 
vived her  husband  for  some  years,  and  was  over  ninety 
years  of  age  w^hen  she  died. 

VOL.   III. — 10 

290  A   UISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  cu.  lx. 

riTAPTEE    LX. 


The  establishment  of  the  American  republic  meant 
something  more  for  England  than  the  loss  of  her  fairest 
colonies,  and  meant  much  more  for  Europe  than  the  estab- 
lishment of  a  new  form  of  government  in  the  New  World. 
While  the  United  States  were  acclaiming  Washington  as 
their  first  President  and  rejoicing  over  the  excellence  of 
their  carefully  framed  Constitution,  the  principles  which 
had  elected  the  one  and  had  created  the  other  were  work- 
ing elsewhere  to  unexpected  and  mighty  issues.  French 
gentlemen  of  rank  and  fortune,  fired  by  a  philosophic 
admiration  for  lilierty,  had  fought  and  fought  well  for  the 
American  colonists,  ^\'hen  the  revolt  had  become  a  revolu- 
tion, and  the  revolution  a  triumph,  the  French  gentlemen 
went  back  to  France  with  their  hearts  full  of  love  and 
their  lips  loud  in  praise  for  the  young  republic  and  its 
simple,  splendid  citizens.  The  doctrines  of  liberty  and 
equality,  which  had  been  so  dear  to  the  Philosophers  and 
the  Encyclopedists,  were  now  being  practically  applied 
across  the  Atlantic,  and  the  growth  of  their  success  was 
watched  by  the  eager  e3^es  of  the  wisest  and  the  unwisest 
thinkers  in  France.  Within  five  years  from  the  time  when 
the  American  army  was  disbanded  French  political  philos- 
ophy found  itself  making  astonishing  strides  towards  the 
realization  of  its  cherished  ideals.  It  had  long  felt  the 
need  of  some  change  in  the  system  of  government  that  had 
prevailed  in  France,  but  its  desires  had  seemed  dim  as 
dreams  until  the  success  of  a  handful  of  rebellious  colo- 
nists in  a  distant  country  had  made  the  spirit  of  democ- 
racy an  immediate  force  in  the  life  and  the  thought  of 
the  world.    Undoubtedlv  the  condition  of  France  was  bad. 


The  feudal  system,  or  what  was  left  of  the  feudal  system, 
worn  out,  degraded,  and  corrupt,  was  rapidly  reducing 
France  to  financial,  physical,  and  political  ruin.  It  is  no 
part  of  the  business  of  this  history  to  dwell  upon  the  con- 
ditions prevailing  in  France  towards  the  close  of  the 
eighteenth  century,  conditions  which  prevailed  in  varying 
degree  over  the  most  part  of  Europe.  Great  French  finan- 
ciers like  Turgot,  great  French  thinkers  like  Voltaire  and 
Rousseau  and  the  company  of  the  "  Encyclopaedia,"  had 
been  keenly  conscious  of  the  corroding  evils  in  the  whole 
system  of  French  political  and  social  life,  and  had  labored 
directly  and  indirectly  to  diminish  them.  Keen-eyed  ob- 
servers from  abroad,  men  of  the  world  like  Chesterfield, 
philosophers  like  xVrthur  Young,  had  at  different  epochs 
observed  the  s3'mptoms  of  social  disease  and  prognosticated 
the  nature  of  its  progress.  The  France  of  that  day  has 
been  likened  to  a  pyramid  with  the  sovereign  for  its  apex, 
with  the  nobility,  a  remnant  of  antique  feudalism,  for  its 
next  tier,  with  the  wealthv  and  influential  Church  for  the 
next,  and  below  these  the  vast  unrecognized  bulk  of  the 
pyramid,  the  unprivileged  masses  who  were  the  people  of 
France.  In  the  hands  of  the  few  who  had  the  happiness 
to  be  "  born,"  or  who  otherwise  belonged  to  the  privileged 
orders,  lay  all  the  power,  all  the  authority  which  for  the 
most  part  they  misused  or  abused.  It  has  been  said  with 
truth  that  the  man  who  did  not  belong  to  the  privileged 
orders  had  scarcely  any  more  influence  upon  the  laws 
which  bound  him  and  which  ground  him  than  if  he  lived 
in  Mars  or  Saturn  instead  of  in  Picardy  or  Franche  Comte. 
Such  a  system  of  government,  which  could  only  have  been 
found  tolerable  if  it  had  been  swaved  bv  a  brotherhood  of 
saints  and  sages,  was,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  worked  in  the 
worst  manner  possible  and  for  the  worst  purposes.  The 
conditions  under  which  the  vast  mass  of  the  French  people 
lived,  struggled,  suffered,  and  died  were  so  cruel  that  it  is 
hard  indeed  to  believe  them  compatible  with  the  high  de- 
gree of  civilization  which,  in  other  respects,  France  had 
reached.  A  merciless  and  most  comprehensive  process  of 
taxation  squeezed  life  and  hope  out  of  the  French  nation 

292  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  cH.  lx. 

for  the  benefit  of  a  nobility  whose  corruption  was  onl}' 
rival lod  by  its  worthlessness  and  an  ecclesiasticism  that 
had  forgotten  the  Sermon  on  the  Mount  and  the  way  to 

But  if  the  condition  of  France  was  bad  it  contained  the 
germs  of  improvement.  A  greater  freedom  of  thought,  a 
greater  freedom  of  speech  were  beginning,  very  gradu- 
ally, to  assert  themselves  and  to  make  their  influence  felt. 
Philosophical  speculation  on  sorrow  and  suffering  turned 
the  minds  of  men  to  thoughts  of  how  that  sorrow  might 
be  stanched  and  that  suffering  abated.  The  slowly  ris- 
ing tide  of  thought  was  blown  into  an  angry  sea  by  a  wind 
from  the  west,  and  in  a  little  while  a  scarcely  suspected 
storm  became  a  hurricane  that  swept  into  a  common  ruin 
everything  that  opposed  its  fury.  England  had  long  been 
looked  up  to  by  French  reformers  as  the  pattern  for  the 
changes  they  desired  to  see  brought  about  in  their  own 
countr}^  The  moderation  and  equality  of  its  laws,  as  com- 
pared with  those  of  France,  the  facilities  of  utterance  af- 
forded to  the  popular  voice,  made  it  seem  a  veritable 
Utopia  to  eyes  dimmed  by  the  mist  of  French  feudality. 
But  now  another  and  a  greater  England  had  arisen  in  the 
New  World.  Across  the  Atlantic  the  descendants  of  the 
men  who  had  overthrown  a  dynasty  and  beheaded  a  king 
had  shaken  themselves  free  from  forms  of  oppression  that 
seemed  mild  indeed  to  Frenchmen,  and  had  proclaimed 
themselves  the  champions  of  theories  of  social  liberty  and 
political  freedom  which  had  been  dreamed  of  by  French 
philosophers  but  had  never  yet  been  put  into  practice.  Re- 
bellious America  had  fired  the  enthusiasm  of  gallant 
French  adventurers;  successful,  independent  America  ani- 
mated the  hopes  and  spurred  the  imaginations  of  those 
whose  eyes  turned  in  longing  admiration  from  the  season- 
ed constitution  of  monarchical  England  to  the  as  yet  green 
constitution  of  republican  America. 

Those  Englishmen  whose  tastes  and  sympathies  induced 
them  to  keep  in  touch  with  political  opinion  in  France, 
and  to  watch  with  interest  the  spread  of  ideas  which  they 
themselves  held  dear,  noted  with  approval  many  remark- 

1789.     REVIVAL   OF   THE   STATES-GENERAL   L\    FRANCE.       293 

able  signs  of  activity  across  the  Channel.  While  the  strain 
upon  the  false  financial  system  of  France  had  become  so 
great  that  the  attempt  to  stop  the  hole  in  the  money  chest 
broke  the  spirit  of  finance  minister  after  finance  minister, 
a  feeling  in  favor  of  some  change  in  the  system  that  made 
such  catastrophes  possible  seemed  to  be  on  the  increase  in 
educated  and  even  in  aristocratic  circles.  Many  English- 
men of  that  day  knew  France,  or  at  least  Paris,  fairly  well. 
If  Pitt  had  paid  the  French  capital  but  a  single  visit,  Fox 
was  intimately  acquainted  with  it,  and  Walpole  was  almost 
as  familiar  with  a  superficial  Paris  as  he  was  with  a  super- 
ficial London.  Dr.  Johnson,  not  very  long  before  the  time 
of  which  we  write,  had  visited  Paris  with  his  friends  the 
Thrales,  and  had  made  the  acquaintance  of  a  brewer  named 
Santerre.  Arthur  Young  travelled  in  France  as  he  trav- 
elled in  England  and  in  Ireland.  On  the  other  hand, 
Frenchmen  who  were  soon  to  be  conspicuous  advocates  of 
change  were  not  unknown  on  the  English  side  of  the  Chan- 
nel. Mirabeau  was  known  in  London — not  too  favorably — 
and  the  cousin  of  the  French  King,  the  Duke  de  Chartres, 
afterwards  Duke  of  Orleans,  had  moved  in  London  society 
and  was  to  move  there  again.  So  when  educated  English- 
men heard  that  Lafayette  had  demanded  the  revival  of 
the  States-General,  unused  and  almost  forgotten  these 
two  centuries,  they  knew  that  the  friend  of  Washington 
was  not  likely  to  ask  for  impossibilities.  When  the  Duke 
of  Orleans  set  himself  openly  in  opposition  to  the  King, 
his  cousin,  they  recognized  a  significance  in  the  act,  and 
when  Mirabeau  asserted  himself  as  the  champion  of  a 
growing  agitation  in  favor  of  an  oppressed  and  unrepre- 
sented people  they  remembered  the  big,  vehement  man 
who  had  passed  so  much  of  his  life  in  prisons  and  had 
played  the  spy  upon  the  Prussian  Court.  Gradually  pre- 
pared for  some  change  in  the  administrative  system  of 
France,  they  were  not  prepared  for  the  rapid  succession  of 
changes  that  followed  upon  the  formal  convocation  of  the 
States-General  in  the  spring  of  1789. 

The  States-General  was  the  nearest  approach  to  a  repre- 
sentative parliamentary  system  that  was  known  to  France. 

294  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lx. 

But  the  States-General  had  not  been  summoned  to  aid  the 
deliberations  of  a  French  monarch  in  the  course  of  many 
reigns.  France  had  lived  under  what  was  practically  a 
despotism  untempered  by  an  expression  of  organized  public 
opinion  for  several  generations.  It  was  so  long  since  the 
States-General  had  been  convoked  that  the  very  forms  and 
ceremonies  incidental  to  or  essential  to  its  convocation  had 
passed  out  of  living  memory,  and  had  to  be  painfully  ascer- 
tained by  much  groping  after  authority  and  precedent.  In 
the  end,  however,  authority  and  precedent  were  ascertained, 
and  the  States-General_,  composed  of  representatives  of  the 
three  estates  of  the  realm — the  Church,  the  Nobility,  and 
the  People — met  with  much  ceremony  at  Versailles.  They 
were  called  together  for  the  ostensible  purpose  of  dealing 
with  the  financial  difficulties  that  threatened  to  make  the 
country  bankrupt.  But  it  was  soon  clear  that  they,  or  at 
least  the  majority  of  their  members,  intended  to  accom- 
plish much  more  than  that.  The  news  that  travelled  slowly 
in  those  days  from  the  capital  of  France  to  the  capital  of 
England  grew  to  be  interesting  and  important  with  an 
interest  and  an  importance  that  were  not  to  cease  in  steady 
activity  for  more  than  a  quarter  of  a  century.  Event  fol- 
lowed event  with  startling  rapidity.  The  members  of  the 
Third  Estate  severed  themselves  from  the  Church  and  the 
Nobility,  met  in  the  Tennis  Court  in  Versailles,  and  de- 
clared themselves  a  National  Assembly.  The  people  of 
Paris,  profoundly  agitated,  and  fearing  that  the  King  in- 
tended to  suppress  the  insurgent  National  Assembly  by 
force,  broke  out  into  riots,  which  culminated  in  an  attack 
upon  the  famous  and  detested  prison  in  the  Faubourg  St. 
Antoine,  the  Bastille.  The  Bastille  had  not  for  many 
years  been  a  serious  instrument  of  oppression,  but  its 
record  was  an  evil  record,  and  it  represented  in  the  eyes 
of  the  people  of  Paris  all  that  was  most  detested  and  most 
detestable  in  the  old  order.  The  Bastille  was  captured; 
its  few  prisoners  were  borne  in  triumph  through  the 
streets,  while  its  commander,  De  Launay,  was  decapitated 
and  his  head  carried  about  on  the  point  of  a  pike. 

If  the  King  of  France  had  been  a  different  man  from 


Louis  the  Sixteenth  he  might  have  faced  the  rising  storm 
with  some  hope  of  success.  But  he  could  do  nothing,  would 
do  nothing.  His  advisers,  his  intimates,  his  kinsmen,  his 
captains,  despairing  at  his  vacillation  and  fearing  that 
they  would  be  abandoned  to  the  fury  of  insurgent  Paris, 
fled  for  their  lives  from  a  country  that  seemed  to  them  as 
if  possessed  by  a  devil.  The  country  was  possessed,  pos- 
sessed by  the  spirit  of  revolution.  After  ages  of  injustice 
a  chance  had  come  for  the  oppressed,  and  the  oppressed 
had  seized  their  chance  and  misused  it,  as  the  long  op- 
pressed always  misuse  sudden  power.  Eebellious  Paris 
marched  upon  Versailles,  camped  outside  the  King's 
palace;  broke  in  the  night  time  into  the  King's  palace, 
slaying  and  seeking  to  slay.  The  Eoyal  Family  were  res- 
cued, if  rescue  it  can  be  called,  by  the  interposition  of 
Lafayette.  They  were  carried  in  triumph  to  Paris.  Still 
nominally  sovereign,  they  were  practically  prisoners  in 
their  palace  of  the  Tuileries.  Europe  looked  on  in  aston- 
ishment at  the  unexpected  outbreak.  In  England  at  first 
the  leaders  of  liberal  opinion  applauded  what  they  be- 
lieved to  be  the  dawn  of  a  new  and  glorious  era  of  political 
freedom.  Fox  hailed  in  a  rapture  of  exultation  the  fall  of 
the  Bastille.  The  Duke  of  Dorset,  the  English  ambassador 
to  France,  saluted  the  accomplishment  of  the  greatest  revo- 
lution recorded  by  history.  Eager  young  men,  nameless 
then  but  yet  to  be  famous,  apostrophised  the  dawn  of 
liberty.  "  Bliss  was  it  in  that  dawn  to  be  alive,  but  to  be 
young  was  very  heaven,"  Wordsworth  wrote,  with  a  wist- 
ful regret,  fifteen  years  after  the  Bastille  had  fallen,  re- 
calling with  a  kind  of  tragic  irony  the  emotions  of  that 
hour  and  contrasting  them  with  his  thoughts  on  the  events 
that  had  followed  through  half  a  generation.  All  over 
England  strenuous  politicians,  catching  the  contagion  of 
excitement  from  excited  France,  formulated  their  sym- 
pathy with  the  Revolution  in  ardent,  eloquent  addresses, 
formed  themselves  into  clubs  to  propagate  the  principles 
that  were  making  France  free  and  illustrious,  and  sent 
delegates  speeding  across  the  Channel  to  convey  to  a 
confident,  constitution-making  National  Assembly  the  as- 

206  A    niSTORY   OF   THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lx. 

siirancc  that  the  best  hearts  and  the  wisest  brains  in  Eng- 
land pulsed  and  moved  in  unison  with  their  desires. 

Such  assurances  were  inaccurate  and  misleading.  There 
was  one  man  in  England  the  goodness  of  whose  heart,  the 
wisdom  of  whose  brain  could  scarcely  be  questioned,  whose 
censure  in  England,  and  not  in  England  alone,  was  more 
serious  than  the  applause  of  a  whole  theatre  of  others. 
At  a  moment  when  all  who  represented  liberal  thought 
in  politics,  all  who  some  ten  years  earlier  had  sympathized 
with  the  American  colonists,  were  showing  a  like  sympathy 
for  the  insurgent  people  of  France,  Edmund  Burke  made 
himself  conspicuous  by  the  vehemence  and  the  vigor  of  his 
opposition  to  a  movement  which  commanded  the  admira- 
tion of  his  most  intimate  friends  and  closest  political 
allies.  While  the  Revolution  was  still  almost  in  its  in- 
fancy, while  Sheridan  and  Fox  vied  with  each  other  in  the 
warmth  of  their  applause,  Burke  set  himself  to  preach  a 
crusade  against  the  Eevolution  with  all  the  unrestrained 
ardor  of  his  uncompromising  nature.  No  words  of  Fox 
or  of  Sheridan,  no  resolution  of  clubs,  no  delegated  en- 
thusiasm had  anything  like  the  same  effect  in  aiding,  that 
Burke's  famous  pamphlet  had  in  injuring  the  French 
Revolution,  in  the  eyes  not  merely  of  the  mass  of  the  Eng- 
lish people,  but  in  the  eyes  of  a  very  great  number  of  people 
in  the  countries  of  Europe.  People  whose  business  it  was 
to  be  king,  to  use  the  famous  phrase  of  a  then  reigning 
prince,  readily  welcomed  Burke's  "  Reflexions  on  the 
French  Revolution,"  which  was  soon  disseminated  all  over 
the  Continent  in  a  French  translation.  Naturally  enough 
it  appealed  to  the  Emperor  of  Germany,  to  the  Empress 
Catherine  of  Russia,  to  the  French  princes  sheltering  in 
Coblentz  and  boasting  of  the  revenge  they  would  take  on 
the  Revolution  when  the  King  should  enjoy  his  own  again. 
Naturally  enough  it  appealed  to  George  the  Third  as  a 
book  which  every  gentleman  ought  to  read.  Kings  and 
princes  everywhere,  who  felt  that  at  any  moment  their 
own  thrones  might  begin  to  rock  unsteadily  beneath  them, 
inevitably  applauded  the  unexpected  assistance  of  the 
greatest  orator  and  thinker  of  his  age. 

1790.  BURKE  AND   THE    FRENCH    REVOLUTION.  297 

Such  applause  alone  would  not  have  made  Burke's 
pamphlet  the  formidal)le  weapon  that  it  proved  to  be  in 
the  hands  of  reaction^  or  have  brought  about  the  grave  re- 
sults that  may  be  directly  attributed  to  Burke's  pen.  The 
words  of  Burke  created,  the  breath  of  Burke  fanned,  a 
public  opinion  in  England  and  abroad  that  was  in  direct 
antagonism  to  everything  that  was  meant  by  those  who 
formed  and  who  guided  or  were  driven  by  the  Eevolution. 
It  would  be  hard  to  find  a  parallel  in  history  for  the  influ- 
ence thus  exerted  by  a  single  man  against  so  great  a  force. 
All  the  conservatism  of  Burke's  nature — the  conservatism 
that  led  him  to  regard  the  English  Parliamentary  system 
of  his  day  as  well-nigh  ideally  perfect,  and  that  prompted 
him  to  resist  so  steadily  and  so  successfully  Pitt's  proposals 
of  Parliamentary  reform — concentrated  itself  against  what 
he  believed  to  be  the  spirit  of  anarchy  newly  arisen  in 
France.  The  Revolution  was  but  a  year  old,  and  was  as 
yet  unstained  by  the  worst  excesses  of  the  Terror,  when 
Burke  launched  his  bolt,  shouted  his  battle-cry,  and  ani- 
mated Europe  to  arms.  It  must  be  admitted  that  many 
of  the  evils  which  Burke  prophesied  in  his  review  of  the 
nascent  revolution  were  the  stigmas  of  its  prime.  From 
the  premises  he  beheld  he  drew  clear  and  definite  conclu- 
sions, which  were  only  too  unhappily  verified  as  the  tide 
of  revolution  flowed.  But  it  must  also  be  remembered 
that  Burke  was  himself  in  no  small  measure  the  cause  of 
the  realization  of  his  own  dark  and  tragic  prognostica- 
tions. Burke's  arguments,  Burke's  eloquence,  Burke's 
splendid  ability  were  among  the  most  potent  factors  in 
animating  the  hopes  of  the  refugee  princes,  of  inspiriting 
their  allies,  and  of  forming  that  ill-advised  and  disastrous 
coalition  of  the  Powers  against  France  which  Danton 
answered  with  the  head  of  a  king.  It  was  the  genius  of 
Burke  that  stemmed  the  sympathy  between  England  and 
a  nation  struggling  to  be  free;  it  was  the  genius  of  Burke 
that  fostered  the  spirit  of  animosity  to  France  which  be- 
gan with  the  march  upon  Paris,  and  which  ended  after 
the  disastrous  defeats  of  the  invaders,  the  deaths  of  the 
King  and  Queen,  and  all  the  agonies  of  the  Terror,  in 

298  A   HISTORY    OV  THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lx. 

creatin^]^  for  En^lnnd,  in  common  with  Europe  at  large, 
the  most  formi(lal)le  enemy  that  she  had  ever  known. 

In  spite  of  Burke  and  Burke's  melancholy  vaticinations 
the  course  of  tlie  devolution  in  France  seemed  at  first  to 
most  liberal-minded  Englishmen  to  move  along  reasonable 
lines  and  to  confine  itself  within  the  bounds  of  modera- 
tion. Tlie  excesses  and  outrages  that  followed  immedi- 
ately upon  the  first  upheaval,  the  murders  of  Foulon  and 
Berthier  in  Paris,  the  peasant  war  upon  the  castles,  were 
regarded  as  the  unavoidable,  deplorable  ebullitions  of  a 
long  dormant  force  which,  under  the  guidance  of  capable 
and  honorable  men,  would  be  directed  henceforward  solely 
to  the  establishment  of  a  stable  and  popular  system  of 
government.  The  men  who  were,  or  who  seemed  to  be, 
at  the  head  of  affairs  in  France  had  names  that  for  the 
most  part  commended  themselves  to  such  Englishmen  as 
liad  anything  more  than  a  superficial  knowledge  of  the 
country.  The  fame  of  Lafayette,  the  hero  of  the  American 
war,  seemed  to  answer  for  the  conduct  of  the  armv.  In 
Bailly,  the  astronomer  whom  unhappy  chance  had  made 
Mayor  of  Paris,  constitutionalism  recognized  a  man  after 
its  own  heart.  The  majority  of  the  members  of  the  Na- 
tional Assembly  seemed  to  be  gloriously  occupied  in 
evolving  out  of  the  chaos  of  the  old  order  a  new  and 
entirely  admirable  framework  of  laws  modelled  boldly 
after  the  English  pattern.  IMost  English  observers 
thought,  in  opposition  to  Burke,  what  the  majority  of  the 
members  of  the  National  Assembly  themselves  thought, 
that  the  Eevolution  was  an  accomplished  fact,  a  concluded 
page  of  history,  brought  about  not  indeed  bloodlessly,  but 
still,  on  the  whole,  with  comparatively  slight  shedding  of 
blood,  considering  the  difficulty  and  the  greatness  of  the 
accomplished  thing.  The  practical  imprisonment  of  the 
King  and  Queen  within  the  walls  of  Paris,  within  the 
walls  of  the  Tuileries,  seemed  no  great  hardship  in  the 
eyes  of  the  Englishmen  who  sympathized  Avith  the  aims 
of  those  of  the  French  revolutionaries  with  whom  they 
were  acquainted.  The  French  King  himself  seemed  to  be 
reconciled  to  his  lot,  to  have  joined  himself  frankly  and 


freely  enough  to  the  party  of  progress  within  his  do- 
minions, and  to  be  as  loyally  eager  to  accept  the  new  con- 
stitution which  the  National  Assembly  was  busy  framing 
as  the  most  ardent  patriot  among  its  members.  Even  the 
flight  of  the  Royal  Family,  the  attempted  flight  that  be- 
gan with  such  laborious  pomp  at  Paris  to  end  in  such 
pitiful  disaster  at  Varennes,  the  flight  that  condemned 
the  King  and  Queen  to  a  restraint  far  more  rigorous  than 
before,  did  not  greatly  disturb  British  equanimity. 

To  the  mind  of  Burke,  however,  his  prophecies  were  al- 
ready justifying  themselves.  He  could  see  nothing  in  the 
Revolution  but  its  errors,  and  he  hailed  the  coalition  of 
Europe  against  France  as  a  league  of  light  against  the 
powers  of  darkness.  He  broke  away  furiously  from  his 
friends  and  allies  of  so  many  great  political  battles.  He 
could  not  understand,  he  could  not  bear  to  realize  that  men 
who  had  struggled  with  him  to  champion  the  rights  of  the 
American  colonists,  and  to  punish  the  oifences  of  Warren 
Hastings,  should  now  be  either  avowed  sympathizers  with 
or  indifferent  spectators  of  the  events  that  were  passing  in 
France.  He  had  loved  Charles  Fox  greatly  ever  since  Fox 
had  shaken  off  the  traditions  of  Toryism  and  become  the 
most  conspicuous  champion  of  liberal  ideas  in  England. 
But  he  could  not  and  would  not  forgive  him  for  his  atti- 
tude towards  the  French  Revolution  and  the  French  Revo- 
lutionists. Burke  saw  nothing  but  evil  in,  thought  nothing 
but  evil  could  come  of,  what  was  happening  in  France, 
and  he  feared  disasters  for  his  own  countrv  if  it  became 
impregnated  with  the  poison  of  the  revolutionary  doctrine. 
That  Fox  should  in  any  way  advocate  that  doctrine  made 
him  in  Burke's  eyes  an  enemy  of  England,  and  not  merely 
of  England  but  of  the  whole  human  race.  There  was  no 
middle  way  with  Burke.  Those  who  were  not  with  him 
were  against  him,  not  merely  as  a  politician,  but  as  a  man. 
To  the  day  of  his  death,  in  1797,  he  hated  the  Revolution 
and  denied  his  friendship  to  those  who  expressed  any- 
thing less  than  execration  for  its  principles  and  its  makers. 
Although  it  is  always  easy  to  exaggerate  the  influence  that 
any  single  spirit  may  have  upon  a  movement  embracing 

300  A    HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lx. 

many  nationalities  and  many  differont  orders  of  mind, 
it  would  be  diflieult  to  overestimate  the  effect  of  Burke's 
words  and  Burke's  actions  in  animating  the  coalition  of 
monarchical  Europe  against  insurgent  France.  And  upon 
a  responsil)ility  for  the  intervention  of  other  States  in  the 
affairs  of  France  depends  also  a  proportionate  degree  of 
responsibility  for  the  results  of  that  intervention.  Burke 
was  to  see  all  the  horrors  he  had  so  eloquently  anticipated 
realized  as  the  direct  consequence  of  the  invasion  of  France 
by  the  allied  armies.  The  French  people  in  the  very  hour 
in  which  they  believed  their  cherished  revolution  to  be  an 
accomplished  fact  saw  it  menaced  by  the  formidable  league 
which  i^roposed  to  bring  the  King's  brothers  back  in  tri- 
umph from  Coblentz,  and  which  threatened,  in  the  ex- 
traordinary language  to  which  Brunswick  put  his  name, 
to  blot  Paris  from  the  map  of  Europe  if  any  injury  were 
done  to  the  King,  who  had  already  formally  accepted  the 
constitution  that  the  Revolution  had  created.  Paris  went 
mad  with  fear  and  rage.  The  September  massacres,  the 
attacks  upon  the  Tuileries,  the  proclaimed  republicanism 
of  the  Convention,  the  rise  of  the  men  of  the  Mountain, 
^larat,  Danton,  and  Robespierre,  the  execution  first  of  the 
King  and  then  of  the  Queen,  the  dominion  of  the  guillo- 
tine and  the  Reign  of  Terror,  were  the  direct  results  of  a 
coalition  whose  only  excuse  would  have  been  its  complete 
success.  The  coalition  proved  to  be  an  absolute  failure. 
To  the  cry  that  the  country  was  in  danger  ragged  legions 
of  desperate  men  rushed  to  the  frontiers,  and,  to  the  as- 
tonishment of  the  world,  proved  more  than  a  match  for 
the  armies  that  were  sent  against  them. 

Pitt  was  not  himself  eager  to  see  England  dragged  into 
the  European  quarrel  with  France.  But  it  was  not  easy 
for  a  minister  who  loved  popularity,  and  who  very  sin- 
cerely believed  his  presence  at  the  head  of  affairs  to  be 
essential  to  the  welfare  of  the  State,  to  avoid  being  in- 
volved in  the  controversy.  The  result  of  the  unsuccessful 
coalition  had  been  to  increase  the  crimes  that  marked  the 
course  of  the  French  Revolution,  and  seemingly  to  justify 
the  fierce  indignation  of  Burke.     The  country  that  had 

1789-92.         PITT  AND   THE  FRENCH   REVOLUTION.  301 

been  profoundly  impressed  by  Burke's  eloquence  was  pro- 
foundly shocked  by  the  horrors  that  lost  nothing  of  their 
magnitude  in  the  reports  that  crossed  the  Channel.  The 
country  was  flooded  with  fugitives  from  France,  emigrants 
who  presented  in  themselves  moving  pictures  of  the  suf- 
ferings of  those  who  were  opposed  to  the  Revolution,  and 
who  were  not  slow  to  express  their  sense  of  the  ruin  that 
had  fallen  upon  their  country.  King  George's  native 
shrewdness  and  native  narrowness  of  mind  had  made  him 
from  the  first  an  active  opponent  of  the  Eevolution.  He 
declared  that  if  a  stop  were  not  put  to  French  principles 
there  would  not  be  a  king  left  in  Europe  in  a  few  years. 
To  him,  whose  business  above  all  things  it  had  been  to  be 
king,  the  prospect  was  unlovely  and  alarming.  The  fear 
that  he  felt  for  his  office  was  shared  in  varying  degree  by 
all  those  who  felt  that  thev  would  have  much  to  lose  if 
the  example  set  by  France  came  to  be  followed  in  England. 
The  Church  and  the  aristocracy,  with  all  wealthy  and  vest- 
ed interests,  were  naturally  ranked  to  resist  by  all  means 
the  spread  of  the  new  doctrines.  There  were  a  few  noble- 
men who,  like  Lord  Stanhope  and  Lord  Lauderdale,  pro- 
fessed themselves  to  be  champions  of  the  French  Revolu- 
tion ;  there  were  some  statesmen  among  the  Opposition  who 
were  either  s}Tnpathizers  with  the  Revolution  or  asserters 
of  the  doctrine  that  it  was  no  part  of  England's  duty  to 
interfere  with  the  way  in  which  another  nation  chose  to 
govern  herself.  But  the  strength  of  public  opinion  was 
against  these,  as  it  was  against  the  minister  who  was  as 
eager  as  any  Englishman  living  to  remain  on  good  terms 
with  France. 

Pitt  from  the  first  had  looked  with  a  favorable  e3'e  upon 
the  changes  that  were  taking  place  across  the  Channel. 
To  maintain  a  friendship  with  France  was  a  radical  part 
of  his  policy.  Friendship  with  France  was  essential 
in  his  mind  in  order  to  combat  the  aggrandizement  of  Rus- 
sia and  Prussia,  and  friendship  with  France  seemed  more 
possible  under  an  enlightened  constitution  than  under  a 
despotic  king.  While  Burke,  who  could  only  make  the 
House  of  Commons  smile  and  sneer  by  his  denunciations 

3U2  A   IIIISTOUY   OF    THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lx. 

of  Jaf'ol)in  intrifxnos  and  his  disjilay  of  Jacobin  daggers, 
was  playing  on  tlio  heart-strings  of  Enghmd  and  reviving 
all  the  old  hostility  to  France,  Pitt  pursued  as  long  as  he 
was  allowed  to  pursue  it  a  policy  of  absolute  neutrality. 
But  he  was  not  long  allowed  to  pursue  that  policy,  al- 
though he  reaped  some  reward  for  it  in  a  proof  that  the 
French  Government  appreciated  his  intentions  and  shared 
his  desire  for  friendship.  An  English  settlement  at  Noot- 
ka  Sound,  in  Vancouver  Island,  had  been  interfered  with 
by  Spain.  England  was  ready  to  assert  her  rights  in 
arms.  Spain  appealed  to  France  for  her  aid  by  the  terms 
of  the  Family  Compact.  The  French  King  and  the  French 
j\[inisters  were  willing  enough  to  engage  in  a  war  with 
England,  in  the  hope  of  diverting  the  course  and  weaken- 
ing the  power  of  the  Kevolution.  But  the  National  As- 
sembly, after  a  long  and  angry  struggle,  took  away  from 
the  King  the  old  right  to  declare  war,  save  with  the  consent 
of  the  National  Assemblv,  which  consent  the  National 
Assembly,  in  that  particular  crisis,  was  decided  not  to  give. 
Pitt  was  delighted  at  this  proof  of  the  friendly  spirit  of 
the  French  people  and  the  advantage  of  his  principle  of 
neutrality.  But  he  was  not  able  to  act  upon  that  prin- 
ciple. The  forces  brought  against  him  w^re  too  many 
and  too  potent  for  him  to  resist.  From  the  King  on  the 
throne  to  the  mob  in  the  streets,  who  sacked  the  houses  of 
citizens  known  to  be  in  S3''mpathy  with  the  Revolution,  the 
English  people  as  a  whole  were  against  him.  The  people 
who  sympathized  with  the  Kevolution,  who  made  speeches 
for  it  in  Westminster  and  formed  Constitutional  Clubs 
which  framed  addresses  of  friendship  to  France,  were  but  a 
handful  in  the  House  of  Commons,  were  but  a  handful 
in  the  whole  country.  Their  existence  dazzled  and  deluded 
the  French  Revolutionists  into  the  belief  that  the  heart  of 
England  was  with  them  at  a  time  w^hen  every  feeling  of 
self-interest  and  of  sentiment  in  England  was  against 
them.  Pitt  clung  desperately  to  peace.  He  thought,  what 
the  Opposition  thought  then  and  for  long  years  later,  that 
it  was  wisest  to  leave  France  to  settle  her  internal  affairs 
and  her  form  of  government  in  her  own  way.    When  Eng- 


land  no  longer  had  an  ambassador  at  the  French  capital 
Pitt  adhered  doggedly,  tenaciously,  to  a  peace  policy;  per- 
sisted in  preserving  the  neutrality  of  Holland;  was  ready, 
were  it  only  possible,  only  permitted  to  him,  to  recognize 
the  new  Eepublic.  But  even  if  the  execution  of  Louis 
the  Sixteenth  had  not  roused  irresistible  indignation  in 
England  the  action  of  the  new  Republic  made  the  pro- 
longation of  peace  an  impossibility.  When,  in  the  winter 
of  1792,  the  Convention  made  the  famous  offer  of  its  aid 
in  arms  to  all  peoples  eager  to  be  free,  it  must  have  been 
plain  to  Pitt  that,  with  France  in  that  temper  and  England 
tempest-tossed  between  hatred  of  the  Revolution  and  fear 
lest  its  theories  were  being  insidiously  fostered  in  her  own 
confines,  the  preservation  of  peace  was  a  dream.  The 
dream  was  finally  dissipated  when  France  made  ready  to 
attack  Holland  and,  rejecting  all  possible  negotiations,  de- 
clared war  in  the  earlv  davs  of  1793. 

At  first  the  war  went  ill  with  France,  and  if  the  German 
Powers  had  co-operated  earnestly  and  honestly  with  Eng- 
land it  is  at  least  within  the  limits  of  possibility  that  Paris 
might  have  been  occupied  and  the  Revolution  for  the  time 
retarded.  France  seemed  to  be  circled  by  foes;  her  en- 
emies abroad  were  aided  bv  civil  war  at  home.  La  Ven- 
dee  was  in  Royalist  revolt;  Marseilles  and  Lyons  rose 
aa^ainst  the  tyranny  of  Paris;  Toulon,  turning  against  the 
Republic,  welcomed  an  English  fleet.  For  a  moment  the 
arms  of  England  and  the  aims  of  the  Allies  seemed  to 
have  triumphed.  But  the  passionate  determination  of  the 
French  popular  leaders  and  the  mass  of  the  French  people 
to  save  the  Revolution  seemed  to  inspire  them  with  a 
heroism  that  grew  in  proportion  to  the  threatened  danger. 
Her  armies  were  swollen  with  enthusiastic  recruits.  Her 
internal  revolts  were  coped  with  and  crushed  with  savage 
severity.  Loyal  La  A'^endee  was  beaten.  The  rebellious 
towns  of  Lyons  and  Marseilles  almost  ceased  to  exist  under 
the  merciless  repression  of  their  conquerors.  Many  of  the 
allied  armies  were  defeated,  while  those  of  the  two  German 
Powers  for  their  own  selfish  ends  played  the  game  of  revo- 
lutionary France  by  abstaining  from  any  serious  effort  to 

304  A    HIJ^TORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lx. 

advance  into  the  country.  Germany  and  Austria  were  con- 
fident that  they  could  whenever  they  pleased  crush  revolu- 
tionary France,  and  they  preferred  to  postpone  the  process, 
in  order  to  occupy  themselves  in  a  new  partition  of  Poland, 
which  they  could  scarcely  have  carried  out  if  the  French 
monarchy  had  been  restored.  If  there  was  nothing  to 
justify  the  conduct  of  the  two  German  Powers,  there  was 
jnuch  to  warrant  their  confidence  in  their  own  strength 
when  they  judged  that  the  time  had  come  for  them  to 
exert  it.  They  counted  upon  the  known  when  they 
measured  their  forces  with  those  of  revolutionary  France; 
they  could  not  count  upon  the  unknown  quantity  which 
was  to  disturb  all  their  calculations.  The  unknown  quan- 
tity asserted  itself  just  at  the  moment  when  France,  in 
spite  of  some  successes,  seemed  to  be  deeply  wounded  by 
the  loss  of  Toulon. 

With  the  great  port  of  Toulon  in  their  hands  the  ad- 
versaries of  France  might  well  believe  that  a  serious  blow 
had  been  struck  at  her  strength,  and  that  the  spirit  which 
so  long  had  defied  them  might  yet  be  broken.  But  the  suc- 
cess which  had  seemed  to  menace  France  so  gravely  proved 
to  be  but  the  point  of  departure  for  a  new  era  of  French 
glory.  The  occupation  of  Toulon  is  forever  memorable, 
because  it  gave  an  opportunity  to  a  young  lieutenant  of 
artillery  in  the  French  service,  quite  obscure  in  that  ser- 
vice and  wholly  unknown  outside  of  it.  The  quick  intelli- 
gence of  this  young  soldier  perceived  that  the  seizure  of 
a  certain  promontory  left  unguarded  by  the  invaders  would 
place  Toulon  and  those  who  had  held  it  at  the  mercy  of 
the  French  cannon.  The  suggestion  was  acted  upon;  was 
entirely  successful;  the  English  admiral  was  obliged  to 
retire  with  all  his  fleet,  and  Toulon  was  once  again  a 
French  citadel  garrisoned  by  French  soldiers.  But  the 
importance  of  the  event  for  France  and  the  world  lay  not 
in  the  capture  but  in  the  captor.  Though  Barras,  confi- 
dent in  his  dominion  over  the  Directory,  might  sneer  at 
the  young  adventurer  from  Corsica  and  minimize  his 
share  in  a  success  that  had  suddenly  made  him  conspicu- 
ous, the  name  of  Bonaparte  then  for  the  first  time  took  its 

1793.  NAPOLEON   BONAPARTE.  305 

place  in  the  history  of  Europe.  The  youth  whose  military 
genius  had  enabled  him  to  see  and  to  seize  upon  the  fatal 
weakness  in  a  well-defended  city  was  destined  to  prove 
the  greatest  soldier  France  had  ever  known,  the  greatest 
as  well  as  the  most  implacable  enemy  England  had  ever 
to  reckon  with,  and  one  of  the  greatest  conquerors  that 
ever  followed  the  star  of  conquest  across  the  war-convulsed 

This  is  the  story  of  England,  not  the  story  of  France, 
and  Napoleon  was  at  his  best  and  worst  rather  an  influ- 
ence upon  than  an  integral  part  of  English  history.  It 
must  be  enough  to  say  here  that  he  is  assumed  to  have 
been  born  in  Ajaccio,  in  Corsica,  in  1769;  that  when  he 
was  ten  years  old  he  tried  to  become  French  rather  than 
Italian — a  feat  which  he  never  successfully  accomplished 
— by  entering  the  military  school  of  Brienne;  that  he 
served  Louis  the  Sixteenth  with  indifference  and  the  Eevo- 
lution  with  an  ambition  that  Avas  often  baffled,  and  that 
he  struck  the  first  of  his  many  strokes  at  England  when 
he  won  Toulon  for  France. 

;jUO  A   llIbTUUy   OF   THE   FOUR   (jEUKGES.  ch.  lxi. 


"  ninety-eight/' 

England  was  not  concerned  merely  with  the  successes 
of  France  upon  the  Continent,  with  the  French  power  of 
resisting  invasion  and  preserving  its  capital  and  its  con- 
stitution. The  time  was  at  hand  when  England  was  to 
take  the  French  Republic  into  consideration  as  a  more 
active  enemy,  whose  enmity  might  take  effect  and  be  a 
very  serious  menace  at  her  own  doors.  The  breath  of  the 
French  Revolution  was  to  Great  Britain  like  that  of  a 
sudden  storm  which  sweeps  round  some  stately  mansion 
and  finds  out  all  its  weak  places  and  shatters  some  of  its 
outlying  buildings,  although  it  cannot  unroof  its  firmest 
towers  or  disturb  its  foundations.  The  weakest  spot  in 
Great  Britain,  and  indeed  we  might  almost  say  in  the 
whole  British  Empire,  was  the  kingdom  of  Ireland.  Ire- 
land had  for  long  been  in  a  state  of  what  might  almost  be 
called  chronic  rebellion  against  the  rule  of  England.  Eng- 
land's enemies  had  always  been  regarded  as  Ireland's 
friends  by  the  Irishmen  who  claimed  especially  to  repre- 
sent the  national  aspirations  of  their  country.  This  is  a 
fact  which  cannot  be  made  too  clear  to  the  minds  of  Eng- 
lishmen even  at  the  present  day,  for  the  simple  reason 
that  no  one  who  is  capable  of  forming  a  rational  idea  on 
the  subject  can  doubt  that  where  a  government  is  persist- 
ently hated  that  government  must  have  done  much  to  de- 
serve the  hate. 

It  is  not  necessary  here  to  undertake  a  survey  of  the 
many  grievances  of  which  Ireland  complained  under  the 
rule  of  Great  Britain.  One  grievance  which  was  especially 
felt  during  the  reign  of  George  the  Third  came  from  the 
persistent  refusal  of  the  Hanoverian  Sovereign  to  listen 


to  any  proposals  for  the  relief  of  the  Roman  Catholics 
from  the  civil  and  religious  disabilities  under  which  they 
suffered.  The  Catholics  constituted  five-sixths  of  the 
whole  population  of  Ireland,  and  up  to  the  time  of  the 
War  of  Independence  in  America  no  Catholic  in  Great 
Britain  or  Ireland  could  sit  in  Parliament,  or  vote  for  the 
election  of  a  member  of  Parliament,  or  act  as  a  barrister 
or  solicitor,  or  sit  on  a  bench  of  magistrates  or  on  a  grand 
jury,  or  hold  land,  or  obtain  legal  security  for  a  loan.  No 
doubt  the  state  of  the  penal  laws  as  they  then  existed  was 
mitigated  when  compared  with  that  which  had  prevailed 
but  a  short  time  before,  when  an  ordinary  Catholic  had 
hardly  any  right  to  do  more  than  live  in  Ireland,  and  a 
Catholic  priest  had  not  even  a  legal  right  to  live  there. 
But  up  to  the  time  when  the  growing  principles  of  liberty 
manifested  themselves  in  the  overthrow  of  the  feudal  sys- 
tem in  France  the  Catholics  in  Great  Britain  and  Ireland 
were  practically  excluded  from  any  approach  to  civil  or 
religious  liberty.  Ireland  had  a  Parliament,  but  it  was 
a  Parliament  of  Protestants,  elected  by  Protestants,  and 
it  w^as  in  fact  a  mere  department  of  the  King's  Adminis- 
tration. The  American  War  of  Independence  suddenly 
awakened  wild  hopes  in  the  breasts  of  all  oppressed  na- 
tionalities, and  the  Irish  Catholic  population  was  among 
the  first  to  be  quickened  by  the  new  life  and  the  new  hope. 
The  national  idea  was  not,  however,  at  first  for  a  separa- 
tion from  England.  Ireland  was  then  for  the  most  part 
under  the  leadership  of  Henry  Grattan,  a  patriot,  states- 
man, and  orator — an  orator  whom  Charles  James  Fox  de- 
scribed as  the  "  Irish  Demosthenes,"  and  whom  Byron 
glorified  as  "  with  all  that  Demosthenes  wanted  endued, 
and  his  rival  and  victor  in  all  he  possessed." 

Grattan's  purpose  was  not  separation  from  England  or 
the  setting  up  of  an  independent  republic.  An  Ireland 
enjoying  religious  equality  for  all  denominations  and  pos- 
sessing a  Parliament  thoroughly  independent  of  that  sit- 
ting at  Westminster  would  have  satisfied  all  his  patriotic 
ambition.  In  fact,  what  Grattan  would  have  desired  for 
Ireland  is  exactly  such  a  system  as  is  now  possessed  by  one 

308  ^   HISTORY    OF   TIIP:    FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lxi. 

of  the  provinces  of  Canada  or  Australia.  When  the  alli- 
ance between  France  and  independent  America  began  to 
threaten  Great  Britain,  and  the  English  Government  prac- 
fically  acknowledged  its  inability  to  provide  for  the  de- 
fence of  Ireland,  Henry  Grattan,  with  other  Irish  patriots 
of  equal  sincerity,  and  some  of  them  of  even  higher  social 
rank,  started  the  Irish  Volunteer  movement,  to  be  a  bul- 
wark of  the  country  in  case  of  foreign  invasion.  When  the 
Irish  patriots  found  themselves  at  the  head  of  an  army  of 
disciplined  volunteers  they  naturally  claimed  that  the 
country  which  was  able  to  defend  herself  should  be  al- 
lov/ed  also  an  independent  Parliament  with  which  to  make 
her  domestic  laws.  They  obtained  their  end,  at  least  for 
the  moment,  and  at  least  to  all  outward  appearance,  and 
Grattan  was  enabled  to  declare  that  for  the  first  time  he 
addressed  a  free  Parliament  in  Ireland  and  to  invoke  the 
spirit  of  Swift  to  rejoice  over  the  event.  Catholic  emanci- 
pation, however,  had  not  yet  been  secured,  although  Grat- 
tan and  those  who  worked  with  him  did  their  best  to  carry 
it  through  the  Parliament  in  Dublin.  The  obstinacy  oi 
King  George  still  prevailed  against  every  eifort  made  by 
the  more  enlightened  of  his  ministers.  Pitt  was  in  his 
brain  and  heart  a  friend  of  Catholic  emancipation,  but  he 
had  at  last  given  way  to  the  King's  angry  and  bitter  pro- 
tests and  complaints,  and  had  made  up  his  mind  never 
again  to  trouble  his  Sovereign  with  futile  recommenda- 
tions. It  so  happened  that  a  new  Viceroy  sent  over  to  Ire- 
land in  1794,  Earl  Fitzwilliam,  became  impressed  with  a 
sense  of  the  justice  of  the  claims  for  Catholic  emancipa- 
tion, and  therefore  gave  spontaneous  and  honorable  en- 
couragement to  the  hopes  of  the  Irish  leaders.  The  result 
was  that  after  three  months'  tenure  of  office  he  was  sud- 
denly recalled,  and  the  expectations  of  the  Irish  leaders 
and  the  Irish  people  were  cruelly  disappointed. 

From  that  moment  it  must  have  been  clear  to  any  keen 
observer  in  Ireland  that  the  influence  of  Grattan  and  his 
friends  could  no  longer  control  the  action  of  Irish  na- 
tionalists in  general,  and  that  the  policy  of  Grattan  would 
no  longer  satisfy  the  popular  demands  of  Ireland.     Short 

1791.  THE   UNITED   IRISHMEN.  309 

as  had  been  the  Irish  independent  Parliament's  term  of 
existence,  it  had  been  long  enough  to  satisfy  most  Irish- 
men that  the  control  of  the  King's  accepted  advisers  was 
almost  as  absolute  in  Dublin  as  in  Westminster.  To  the 
younger  and  more  ardent  spirits  among  the  Irish  national- 
ists the  setting  up  of  a  nominally  independent  Irish  Par- 
liament had  always  seemed  but  a  poor  achievement  when 
compared  with  the  change  which  their  national  ambition 
longed  for  and  which  the  conditions  of  the  hour  to  all  ap- 
pearance conspired  to  render  attainable.  These  young  men 
were  now  filled  with  all  the  passion  of  the  French  Revolu- 
tion; they  had  always  longed  for  the  creation  of  an  inde- 
pendent Ireland;  they  insisted  that  Grattan's  compromise 
had  already  proved  a  failure,  and  in  France,  the  enemy 
of  England,  they  found  their  new  hopes  for  the  emanci- 
pation of  Ireland. 

There  were  among  the  Irish  rebels,  as  they  were  soon  to 
declare  themselves,  many  men  of  great  abilities  and  of  the 
purest  patriotic  purpose.  Among  the  very  foremost  of 
these  were  Theobald  Wolfe  Tone  and  Lord  Edward  Fitz- 
gerald. Both  these  men,  like  all  the  other  leaders  of  the 
movement  that  followed,  were  Protestants,  as  Grattan 
was.  Wolfe  Tone  was  a  young  man  of  great  capacity  and 
promise,  who  began  his  public  career  as  secretary  to  an 
association  formed  for  the  purpose  of  effecting  the  relief 
of  the  Eoman  Catholics  from  the  civil  and  religious  dis- 
abilities which  oppressed  them.  This  society,  after  awhile, 
was  named  the  Association  of  United  Irishmen.  The 
United  Irishmen  were  at  that  time  only  united  for  the 
purpose  of  obtaining  Catholic  Emancipation.  The  associa- 
tion, as  we  shall  soon  see,  when  it  failed  of  its  first  object 
became  united  for  other  and  sterner  purposes.  Wolfe 
Tone  was  a  young  man  of  a  brilliant  Byronic  sort  of  nat- 
ure. There  was  much  in  his  character  and  temperament 
which  often  recalls  to  the  mind  of  the  reader  the  generous 
impulse,  the  chivalric  ardor,  and  the  impetuous  eccentric- 
ity of  Byron.  Tone,  as  a  youth,  was  a  careless  student,  or, 
indeed,  to  put  it  more  distinctly,  he  only  studied  the  sub- 
jects he  cared  about  and  was  in  the  habit  of  neglecting  his 

310  A   HISTORY   OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lxi. 

collegiate  tasks  until  the  hour  arrived  when  it  became  ab- 
solutely necessary  that  he  should  master  them  enough  at 
least  to  pass  muster  for  each  emergency.  He  was  a  keen 
and  close  student  of  any  subject  which  had  genuine  in- 
terest for  him,  but  such  subjects  were  seldom  those  which 
had  anything  to  do  with  his  academical  career.  He  stud- 
ied law  after  a  fashion  in  one  of  the  London  Inns  of  Court, 
and  he  was  called  to  the  Bar  in  due  course;  but  he  had  no 
inclination  whatever  for  the  business  of  an  advocate,  and 
his  mind  was  soon  drawn  away  from  the  pursuit  of  a  legal 
career.  He  had  a  taste  for  literature  and  a  longing  for 
travel  and  military  adventure  in  especial,  and  for  a  time 
he  lived  a  pleasant,  free  and  easy,  Bohemian  sort  of  life, 
if  we  may  use  the  term  Bohemian  in  describing  days  that 
existed  long  before  Henri  Murger  had  given  the  word  its 
modern  application. 

One  of  the  many  odd,  original  ideas  which  floated  like 
bubbles  across  Wolfe  Tone's  fancy  was  a  scheme  for  found- 
ing a  sort  of  military  colony  in  some  island  in  the  South 
Seas,  to  act  as  a  check  upon  the  designs  and  enterprises  of 
Spain  against  the  British  Empire.  Tone  took  his  idea  so 
seriously  that  he  wrote  to  William  Pitt,  the  Prime  Minis- 
ter, describing  and  explaining  his  project  and  asking  for 
Government  help  in  order  to  make  it  a  reality.  As  will  be 
easily  understood,  Pitt  took  no  notice  of  the  proposal,  hav- 
ing probably  a  good  many  more  suggestions  made  to  him 
every  day  as  to  the  best  defences  of  England  than  he  could 
possibly  consider  in  a  week.  It  is  somewhat  curious,  how- 
ever, to  find  that  Wolfe  Tone  should  at  one  period  of  his 
life  have  formed  the  idea  of  helping  England  to  defend 
herself  against  her  enemies.  Some  historians  have  gone 
so  far  as  to  opine  that  if  Pitt  could  have  seen  his  way  to 
take  Tone's  proposition  seriously,  and  to  patronize  the 
young  man,  the  world  might  never  have  heard  of  the  in- 
surrection of  "  Ninety-Eight."  But  no  one  who  gives  any 
fair  consideration  to  the  whole  career  and  character  of 
Tone  can  have  any  doubt  that  Tone's  passionate  patriot- 
ism would  have  made  him  the  champion  of  his  own  coun- 
try, no  matter  what  prospects  the  patronage  of  an  Eng- 

1763-98.  THEOBALD   WOLFE  TONE.  311 

lish  minister  might  have  offered  to  his  ambition.  At  the 
time  when  Tone  was  scheming  out  his  project  for  the 
island  in  the  South  Seas  the  leaders  in  the  national  move- 
ment in  Ireland  still  believed  that  the  just  claims  of  their 
people  were  destined  to  receive  satisfaction  from  the  wis- 
dom and  justice  of  the  English  Sovereign.  When  it  be- 
came apparent  that  Catholic  Emancipation  was  not  to  be 
obtained  through  George  the  Third  and  through  Pitt,  then 
Wolfe  Tone  made  up  his  mind  that  there  was  no  hope  for 
Ireland  but  in  absolute  independence,  and  that  that  inde- 
pendence was  only  to  be  won  by  the  help  of  Xapoleon 
Bonaparte  and  of  France.  In  the  mean  time  Tone  had 
taken  a  step  which  brilliant,  gifted,  generous,  and  im- 
pecunious young  men  usually  take  at  the  opening  of  their 
career — he  had  made  a  sudden  marriage.  Matilda  Wither- 
ington  was  only  sixteen  when  Tone  persuaded  her  to  accept 
him  as  her  husband  and  to  share  his  perilous  career.  Ko- 
mance  itself  hardly  contains  any  story  of  a  marriage  more 
imprudent  and  yet  more  richly  rewarded  by  love.  Tone 
adored  his  young  wife  and  she  adored  him.  Love  came  in 
at  their  door  and,  though  poverty  entered  there  too,  love 
never  flew  out  at  the  window.  The  whole  story  of  Wolfe 
Tone's  public  career  may  be  read  in  the  letters  which,  dur- 
ing their  various  periods  of  long  separation,  no  difficulties 
and  no  dangers  ever  prevented  him  from  writing  to  his 
wife.  When  he  made  up  his  mind  to  consecrate  himself 
to  the  national  cause  of  Ireland,  and,  if  necessary,  to  die 
for  it,  he  set  forth  his  purpose  to  his  wife,  and  she  never 
tried  to  dissuade  him  from  it.  It  is  told  of  her  that  at  one 
critical  period  of  his  fortunes  she  concealed  from  him  the 
fact  that  she  expected  to  become  a  mother,  lest  the  knowl- 
edge might  chill  his  patriotic  enthusiasm  or  make  him 
unhappy  in  his  enterprise. 

Tone  went  out  to  America  and  got  into  council  with  the 
representative  of  the  French  Eepublic  there;  then  he  re- 
turned to  Europe,  and  he  entered  into  communication  with 
Carnot  and  with  Napoleon  Bonaparte.  To  these  and  to 
others  he  imparted  his  plans  for  a  naval  and  military  ex- 
pedition from  France  to  approach  the  coast  of  Ireland,  to 

312  A    IIISTOUY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  en.  lxi. 

land  troops  there,  and  to  make  the  beginning  of  a  great 
Irish  rebellion,  which  must  distract  the  attention  and  ex- 
haust the  resources  of  England  and  place  her  at  the  feet 
of  all-conquering  France.  Tone  felt  certain  that  if  an 
adequate  number  of  French  troops  were  landed  on  the 
western  or  southern  shore  of  Ireland  the  whole  mass  of 
the  population  there  would  rally  to  the  side  of  the  invaders, 
and  England  would  have  to  let  Ireland  go  or  waste  herself 
in  a  hopeless  struggle.  Tone  insisted  in  all  his  arguments 
and  expositions  that  Ireland  must  be  free  and  independent, 
and  that  no  idea  of  conquering  and  annexing  her  must 
enter  into  the  minds  of  the  French  statesmen  and  soldiers. 
Napoleon  and  Carnot  approved  of  Tone's  schemes  as  a 
whole,  but  Tone  could  not  help  seeing  that  Napoleon  cared 
nothing  whatever  about  the  independence  or  prosperity  of 
Ireland,  and  only  took  up  with  the  whole  scheme  as  a 
convenient  project  for  the  embarrassment  and  the  distrac- 
tion of  England.  Tone  received  a  commission  in  the  army 
of  the  French  Eepublic,  and  became  the  soul  and  the  in- 
spiration of  the  policy  which  at  fitful  moments,  when  his 
mind  was  not  otherwise  employed,  Napoleon  was  inclined 
to  carry  out  on  the  Irish  shores. 

Lord  Edward  Fitzgerald  was  a  son  of  the  great  ducal 
house  of  Eeinster.  He  was  born  in  the  same  year  as  Wolfe 
Tone;  he  was  to  die  in  the  same  year.  It  was  his  evil 
fortune  to  have  to  fight  for  the  cause  of  King  George 
against  the  uprising  of  the  patriotic  colonists  of  North 
America.  He  afterwards  became  filled  with  the  ideas  of 
the  French  Revolution,  and  got  into  trouble  more  than 
once  by  expressing  his  sentiments  too  freely  while  yet  he 
wore  the  uniform  of  the  British  army.  In  Paris  he  be- 
came acquainted  with  Thomas  Paine  and  was  greatly 
taken  with  the  theories  and  charmed  with  the  ways  of  the 
revolutionary  thinker,  and  in  the  company  of  Paine  and 
congenial  associates  he  took  part  in  Republican  celebra- 
tions which  became  talked  of  in  England  and  led  to  his 
dismissal  from  the  army.  Lord  Edward  Fitzgerald  had 
a  strong  love  of  adventure  and  exploration,  and  had  con- 
trived to  combine  with  his  military  career  in  the  New 

1763-98.  LORD   EDWARD   FITZGERALD.  313 

World  a  number  of  episodes  almost  any  one  of  which 
might  have  supplied  the  materials  for  a  romance.  He  was 
a  man  of  a  thoroughly  lovable  nature,  gallant,  high-spir- 
ited, generous.  Like  Wolfe  Tone,  he  had  made  a  romantic 
marriage.  His  wife  was  the  famous  Pamela,  the  beautiful 
girl  who  was  ward  to  Madame  de  Genlis,  and  commonly 
believed  to  be  the  daughter  of  the  Duke  of  Orleans,  Phi- 
lippe Egalite.  Louis  Philippe,  afterwards  King  of  France, 
was  one  of  the  witnesses  at  the  marriage  ceremony.  Lord 
Edward  was  perfectly  happy  with  his  young  and  beautiful 
wife  until  the  political  events  came  on  which  gave  the  sud- 
den and  tragic  turn  to  his  life.  He  was  a  member  of  the 
Irish  Parliament  for  many  years,  and  had  on  several  oc- 
casions supported  the  policy  which  was  advocated  by  Grat- 
tan.  He  too,  however,  soon  made  up  his  mind,  as  Wolfe 
Tone  had  done,  that  there  was  nothing  to  be  expected  from 
the  Sovereign  and  his  ministers,  and  he  became  an  active 
member  of  the  Society  of  United  Irishmen  when  that  as- 
sociation ceased  to  be  a  constitutional  body  and  set  its  heart 
on  armed  rebellion.  Ijord  Edward  went  over  to  France 
and  worked  hard  there  for  the  purpose  of  obtaining  armed 
assistance  for  the  Irish  cause,  but  he  returned  to  Ireland 
to  work  up  the  rebellious  movement  there  while  Tone  re- 
mained in  France  to  influence  as  well  as  he  could  the  policy 
of  N'apoleon  and  Carnot. 

Among  the  other  distinguished  Irishmen  who  worked 
at  home  or  in  France — sometimes  at  home  and  sometimes 
in  France — to  promote  the  rebellion  were  Arthur  O'Con- 
nor and  Thomas  Addis  Emmet.  Arthur  O'Connor  came 
of  a  great  Irish  family;  Thomas  Addis  Emmet,  after  the 
failure  of  the  rebellious  movement,  escaped  to  the  United 
States  and  made  a  great  position  for  himself  as  an  advo- 
cate in  New  York.  A  younger  brother  of  Thomas  Emmet 
also  took  part  in  the  organization  of  "  Ninety-Eight,"  but 
the  fate  of  Eobert  Emmet  will  have  a  place  to  itself  in 
this  chapter  of  our  history. 

One  fact  has  to  be  mentioned,  and  must  be  kept  con- 
stantly in  mind  when  we  are  studying  the  grim  story  of 
**  Ninety-Eight."     Every  step  taken  by  the  rebel  leaders 

314  A    HISTOUY    OF   THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lxi. 

was  almost  instantly  made  known  to  the  English  Govern- 
ment. The  spy,  the  hired  informer,  was  then,  as  he  has 
always  been,  in  the  very  thick  of  the  Irish  national  move- 
ment. Some  of  the  informers  in  "  Ninety-Eight "  were 
of  a  different  class  from  that  of  the  ordinary  police  spy. 
and  it  has  been  made  quite  certain  by  sul)sequent  dis- 
coveries that  Wolfe  Tone  and  Fitzgerald,  Arthur  O'Con- 
nor and  the  Emmets  were  in  the  closest  friendly  associa- 
tion with  men  whom  they  believed  to  be  as  genuine  Irish 
patriots  as  themselves,  but  who  were  all  the  time  in  the 
pay  of  Pitt,  and  were  keeping  him  well  informed  of  every 
plan  and  project  and  movement  of  their  leaders.  As  po- 
litical morals  were  then  and  are  perhaps  even  now,  it  would 
be  absurd  to  find  fault  with  Pitt  because  he  made  use  of 
the  services  of  spies  and  informers  to  get  at  the  plans  of 
a  number  of  men  who  proposed  to  invite  a  foreign  enemy 
of  England  to  invade  the  Irish  shores,  and  were  doing  all 
they  could  to  secure  by  armed  rebellion  the  independence 
of  Ireland.  The  wonder  that  will  now  occur  to  every 
reasonable  mind  is  that  the  Irish  leaders  should  have 
failed  to  guess  that  whatever  money  would  do  would  be 
done  by  the  English  Government,  as  it  would  have  been 
done  by  any  other  Government  under  similar  conditions,  to 
get  at  a  knowledge  of  their  designs  and  to  counteract  them. 
At  all  events,  it  is  quite  certain  that  while  Tone  and  Fitz- 
gerald and  their  comrades  were  playing  their  gallant, 
desperate  game,  the  British  Minister  was  quietly  looking 
over  their  shoulders  and  studying  their  cards. 

Napoleon  Bonaparte,  meanwhile,  seems  to  have  been  but 
half-hearted  about  the  scheme  for  the  invasion  of  Ireland. 
He  had  many  other  schemes  in  his  mind,  some  of  which 
probably  appeared  more  easy  of  accomplishment,  and  at 
all  events  promised  a  more  immediate  result  than  the 
proposed  flank  attack  on  the  power  of  England.  It  is  cer- 
tain that  Wolfe  Tone  had  long  intervals  of  depression  and 
despondency,  against  which  it  needed  all  the  buoyancy  of 
his  temperament  to  sustain  him.  At  last  a  naval  expedi- 
tion was  resolved  on  and  despatched.  In  the  late  Decem- 
ber of  1796  a  small  French  fleet,  with  about  14,000  troops 

1797.       A  FRENCH  FLEET  IN  BANTRY  BAY.        315 

on  board,  under  the  command  of  General  Hoche,  made  for 
the  southwestern  shores  of  Ireland.  Tone  was  on  board 
one  of  the  war  vessels  in  his  capacity  as  a  French  officer 
serving  under  General  Hoche.  The  weather  proved  utterly 
unfavorable  to  the  expedition.  The  war  vessels  were  con- 
stantly parting  company.  The  admiral's  vessel,  together 
with  several  others,  was  lost  to  sight  on  the  very  first  night, 
and  the  heart  of  Tone  grew  sick  as  he  saw  that  with  every 
fresh  outburst  of  the  tempest  the  chances  even  of  effecting 
a  landing  grew  less  and  less.  Most  of  the  vessels  entered 
Bantry  Bay  and  lay  helplessly  at  anchor  there,  but  there 
was  no  landing.  Tone's  despondency  and  powerless  rage 
as  he  foresaw  the  failure  of  his  project  might  have  been 
still  deeper  if  he  could  have  known  how  utterly  unprepared 
the  authorities  of  Dublin  Castle  were  for  any  sort  of  in- 
vasion. Tone  had  observed  already,  as  the  expedition 
made  its  way  from  Brest,  that  they  had  not  seen  a  single 
English  vessel  of  war  anywhere  on  the  sea  or  around  the 
Irish  coasts.  But  he  could  have  had  no  idea  of  the  manner 
in  which  the  British  Government  had  intrusted  the  keeping 
of  the  island  to  the  protection  of  the  winds  and  of  the 
fates.  A  letter  written  from  Dublin  by  Elizabeth  Moira 
Hastings,  widow  of  the  first  Earl  of  Moira,  throws  a 
curious  light  on  the  state  of  things  which  existed  among 
the  governing  authorities  at  the  time  of  the  invasion,  and 
amazingly  illustrates  the  odd  rumors  and  wild  conjectures 
which  were  floating  about  at  the  time.  Writing  to  a 
friend  in  a  different  part  of  Ireland  on  January  19,  1797, 
Lady  Moira  says: 

"  Our  escape  has  been  miraculous :  the  French  fleet  left 
Brest  .  .  .  mistook  the  Durseys  for  Mizen  Head,  and 
therefore  did  not  make  their  entrance  into  Bantry  Bay 
till  the  24th,  on  which  very  day  the  storm  arose  and  pre- 
vented the  greater  part  of  their  fleet  getting  into  the  Bay, 
driving  the  greatest  part  of  them  out  to  sea.  You  will 
observe  that  it  was  on  the  19th  Lord  i\Ialmesbury  had 
orders  to  quit  Paris.  He  undoubtedly  had  purchased  in- 
telligence at  a  high  price,  being  duped  in  that  inquiry  by 
the  manoeuvres  of  the  Directorv,  and  srave  false  information 

316  A  mSTORY   OF   THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lxi. 

to  England.  Had  the  French  landed  on  the  18th  or  19th, 
which  they  might  have  done,  had  they  not  mistaken  the 
Durseys,  we  should  have  had  the  French  now  governing 
in  this  metropolis.  All  agree  that  there  never  was  an 
expedition  so  completely  planned,  and  in  some  points  so 
curiously  furnished — the  most  beautiful  ladies  of  easy 
virtue  from  Paris  were  collected  and  made  a  part  of  the 
freight.  Hoche's  mistress  accompanied  him,  and  his  car- 
riage was  on  board  '  La  Ville  d'Orient,'  taken  by  the 
^  Druid.'  The  hussars  taken  on  board  that  vessel  were 
those  who  guarded  the  scaffold  at  the  execution  of  the  un- 
fortunate Lewis — they  are  clothed  in  scarlet  jackets  trim- 
med with  gold  and  fur,  and  wear  each  the  butcher's  steel, 
on  which  they  whet  their  knives,  to  whet  their  swords  with. 
It  is  reported  that  Hoche  and  Reilly  (one  of  the  admirals) 
are  gone  off  to  America  with  seven  hundred  thousand 
pounds  in  specie  that  was  on  board  their  vessel  to  pay  the 
troops.  Others  think  the  vessel  has  sunk,  for  neither  of 
these  personages  or  the  frigate  '  La  Fraternite,'  which 
they  were  on  board,  has  been  seen  since  they  quitted  Brest 
by  any  of  the  French  vessels.  What  a  fortunate  person 
^Ir.  Pitt  is !  and  what  a  benefit  is  good  luck  to  its  possessor ! 
The  troops  are  all  marching  back  to  their  old  quarters; 
Cork  and  its  environs  indignant  at  Government  for  leaving 
them  again  to  the  entire  care  of  Providence.  ...  It  is  a 
general  belief  among  all  parties  that  the  French  will  re- 
visit Ireland,  and  at  no  distant  period — probably  the  next 
dark  nights.  If  the  storms  now  prevented  them  they  have 
learned  how  possible  the  attempt  is,  and  how  can  such  a 
coast  be  guarded?  There  has  been  much  show  of  spirit 
and  loyalty,  and  yet  I  thank  God  they  did  not  land !" 

The  words  of  Wolfe  Tone,  taken  from  his  journal,  may 
be  accepted  as  the  epitaph  of  the  first  French  expedition. 
"  It  was  hard,"  says  Tone,  "  after  having  forced  my  way 
thus  far,  to  be  obliged  to  turn  back ;  but  it  is  my  fate,  and 
I  must  submit.  .  .  .  Well,  England  has  not  had  such  an 
escape  since  the  Spanish  Armada;  and  that  expedition, 
like  ours,  was  defeated  by  the  weather ;  the  elements  fight 
against  us,  and  courage  is  of  no  avail/' 

1797.        THE   FRENCH   AND   DUTCH   TO  AID   IRELAND.  317 

The  French  did  return,  as  Lady  Moira  had  predicted. 
They  returned  more  than  once,  but  there  was  a  long  in- 
terval between  the  first  and  the  second  visitation,  and  there 
were  negotiations  between  the  French  and  the  Dutch  He- 
public — the  Batavian  Kepublic,  as  it  was  called — which 
had  been  forming  an  alliance  with  France.  Xeither  the 
French  Republic  nor  the  Batavian  felt  any  particular  in- 
terest in  the  Irish  movement,  or  cared  very  much  whether 
Ireland  obtained  her  national  independence  or  had  to  live 
without  it.  France,  of  course,  was  willing  to  make  use  of 
Ireland  as  a  vantage-ground  from  which  to  harass  Great 
Britain,  and  the  Batavian  Republic,  which  had  for  some 
time  been  lapsing  out  of  European  notice,  was  eager  to 
distinguish  herself  and  to  play  a  conspicuous  political  part 
once  again.  The  idea  at  first  was  that  Holland  should 
furnish  the  naval  expedition  and  France  contribute  the 
troops — 5000  Frenchmen,  under  the  command  of  General 
Hoche,  who  were  to  land  in  Ireland  and  form  the  centre 
and  rallying  point  for  the  United  Irishmen.  The  Ba- 
tavian Republic,  however,  did  not  seem  anxious  to  give  all 
the  military  glory  of  the  affair  to  France,  and  some  ex- 
cuses were  made  on  the  ground  that  the  discipline  of  the 
Dutch  navy  was  somewhat  too  severe  for  the  soldiers  of 
France  to  put  up  with.  General  Hoche  seems  to  have  acted 
with  great  disinterestedness  and  moderation  under  trying 
conditions.  He  saw  that  the  Dutch  were  anxious  to  make 
a  name  for  themselves  once  more,  and  he  feared  that  if 
he  were  to  press  for  the  embarkation  of  the  French  sol- 
diers it  might  lead  to  the  abandonment  of  the  whole  ex- 
pedition. Longing  as  he  was  for  the  chance  to  distinguish 
himself  in  any  attack  upon  England,  he  controlled  his 
eagerness  and  consented  that  the  Dutch  should  have  the 
undertaking  all  to  themselves.  Poor  Wolfe  Tone  had  to 
wait  and  look  on  all  this  time,  eating  his  own  heart,  ac- 
cording to  the  Homeric  phrase.  He  has  left  us  in  his 
journal  a  description  of  his  feelings  as  he  saw  the  days  go 
by  without  any  movement  being  made  to  harass  the  Eng- 
lish enemy,  and  of  his  own  emotions  when  what  might 
have  seemed  the  heaven-sent  chance  of  the  mutiny  at  the 

318  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  CH.  lxi. 

Nore  broke  out  in  the  English  fleet  and  no  advantage 
could  be  taken  of  it  to  forward  the  chances  of  the  expedi- 
tion from  the  Texel.  For  now  again  the  skies  and  the 
winds  had  come  to  the  defence  of  England,  and  the  Dutch 
fleet  was  kept  to  its  anchorage  in  its  own  waters.  Various 
plans  of  warfare  were  schemed  out  by  the  Batavian  Re- 
public, with  the  hope  of  putting  the  English  naval  authori- 
ties on  a  wrong  scent,  but  all  these  schemes  were  suddenly 
defeated  by  the  orders  given  to  the  Dutch  admiral  to  put 
to  sea  at  once.  He  did  put  to  sea,  and  was  encountered  by 
Admiral  Duncan,  and  the  result  was  the  great  victory  of 
Camperdown,  won  by  the  English  over  the  Dutch  after 
splendid  fighting  on  both  sides.  Admiral  Duncan  thereby 
became  Lord  Camperdown  and  the  Batavian  Eepublic 
dropped  all  ideas  of  a  naval  expedition  against  England. 
Meanwhile  the  gallant  General  Hoche  had  died,  and  Wolfe 
Tone  lost  a  true  friend,  with  whom,  from  the  beginning  of 
their  acquaintance,  he  had  been  in  thorough  sympathy. 

All  this  time  the  condition  of  things  in  Ireland  was  be- 
coming desperate.  After  the  appearance  of  the  fleet  in 
Bantry  Bay,  and  the  hopes  which  it  created  on  the  one  side 
and  the  alarms  on  the  other,  the  ruling  powers  in  Dublin 
Castle,  and  indeed  at  Westminster,  had  no  other  idea  but 
that  of  crushing  out  the  rebellious  spirit  of  the  Irish 
people  by  Coercion  Acts  and  by  military  law.  The  na- 
tional sentiment  of  Ireland  counted  for  nothing  with  them. 
It  may  be  safely  laid  down  as  an  axiom  in  political  history 
that  the  men  who  are  not  able  to  take  account  of  the  force 
of  what  they  would  call  a  mere  national  sentiment  in  pub- 
lic afl^airs  are  not  and  never  can  be  fit  to  carry  on  the  great 
work  of  government.  Ireland  was  overrun  by  militia  regi- 
ments, sent  over  from  England  and  Scotland,  who  had  no 
sympathy  whatever  with  the  Irish  people,  and  regarded 
them  simply  as  revolted  slaves  to  be  scourged  back  into 
submission  or  shot  down  if  they  persevered  in  refusing  to 
submit.  Other  forces  representing  law  and  order  were 
found  in  the  yeomanry,  who  were  chiefly  Orangemen  and 
officered  by  Orangemen,  and  who  regarded  the  Catholic 
peasantry  as  their  born  enemies.    A  state  of  tumult  raged 


through  the  greater  part  of  the  unhappy  island,  and  there 
cannot  be  the  slightest  doubt  that  the  floggings,  hangings, 
and  shootings  inflicted  by  the  militia  and  by  the  yeomen 
were  in  many  cases  done  not  so  much  in  punishment  as  in 
anticipation  of  rebellious  movements  on  the  part  of  the 
Catholics.  In  the  mean  time  preparations  were  unquestion- 
ably going  on  in  many  Irish  counties,  more  especially  in 
Ulster,  for  an  outbreak  of  rebellion.  The  organization 
of  United  Irishmen  was  adding  to  its  numbers  of  sworn-in 
members  every  day,  and  the  making  of  pikes  was  a  busy 
manufacture  all  over  many  of  the  counties.  Grattan  and 
some  of  his  friends  made  many  efforts  in  the  Irish  House 
of  Commons  to  induce  the  Government  to  devise  some 
means  for  the  pacification  of  Ireland  other  than  Coercion 
Acts,  the  scourge,  the  bullet,  and  the  gallows.  Finding 
their  efforts  wholly  in  vain,  Grattan,  Arthur  O'Connor, 
Lord  Edward  Fitzgerald  and  his  brother,  and  many  other 
men  of  high  character  and  position  withdrew  from  the 
Dublin  Parliament  altogether,  and  left  to  the  Government 
the  whole  responsibility  for  the  results  of  its  policy.  It 
is  alwa3^s  to  be  regretted  that  a  man  like  Grattan  should 
ever  recede  from  his  position  as  a  constitutional  patriot  in 
the  assembly  where  alone  his  counsels  can  have  any  practi- 
cal weight;  but  of  Lord  Edward  Fitzgerald  and  Arthur 
O'Connor  the  same  is  not  to  be  said,  for  these  men  and 
many  of  their  friends  had  made  up  their  minds  that  the 
time  had  come  when  only  in  armed  rebellion  there  remain- 
ed any  hope  for  Ireland.  In  the  English  Parliament  some 
efforts  were  made  by  Charles  James  Fox  and  by  Whit- 
bread  to  obtain  an  inquiry  into  the  real  cause  of  the 
troubles  in  Ireland,  but  the  attempts  were  ineffectual,  and 
the  authorities  at  Dublin  Castle  were  allowed  to  carry  out 
their  own  peculiar  policy  without  control  or  check  of  any 

Once  again  the  fates  were  suddenly  unpropitious  to  the 
Irish  national  movement.  The  force  which  was  intended 
for  Ireland  was  siiddenly  ordered  to  form  a  part  of  the 
expedition  which  Bonaparte  was  leading  against  Egypt. 
Thereupon  the  chiefs  of  the  L^nited  Irishmen  began  to  see 

320  A   HISTORY  OF  THE   FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lxi. 

that  there  was  not  rrmch  hope  to  be  founded  on  any  help 
to  come  from  France,  and  it  was  decided  that  Ireland 
should  enter  into  open  armed  rebellion  under  the  command 
of  Lord  Edward  Fitzgerald.  It  was  confidently  believed 
that  all  but  a  small  number  of  the  Irish  counties  would 
rise  to  arms  at  once  under  such  leadership,  and  the  Irish 
leaders  little  knew  how  completely  the  Government  was 
supplied  with  the  knowledge  of  all  the  Irish  national  plans 
and  movements.  Indeed,  there  seems  only  too  much  reason 
to  believe  that  the  policy  of  Pitt  had  long  been  to  force 
the  Irish  into  premature  rebellion  by  the  persistent  appli- 
cation of  the  system  of  coercion,  represented  by  what  were 
called  "  free  quarters '' — in  other  words,  the  billeting  of 
soldiers  indiscriminately  among  the  houses  of  the  peas- 
antry, thereby  leaving  the  wives  and  daughters  of  Irish 
Catholics  at  the  mercy  of  a  hostile  soldiery — by  the  burn- 
ing of  houses,  the  shooting  dowTi  of  almost  defenceless 
crowds,  and  the  flogging  and  hanging  of  men  and  women. 
Certain  it  is  that  many  of  the  British  officers  high  in 
command  protested  loudly  against  such  a  policy,  and  that 
some  of  them  positively  refused  to  carry  it  out,  and  pre- 
ferred to  incur  any  rebuke  rather  than  be  the  instruments 
of  such  indiscriminate  oppression.  Pitt  and  the  authori- 
ties at  Dublin  Castle  probably  reasoned  with  themselves 
that  since  the  rebellion  was  certain  to  come  it  was  better 
to  press  it  on  prematurely,  so  that  it  might  be  easily 
crushed,  rather  than  leave  it  to  take  its  own  time  and  put 
its  plans  into  execution  when  they  should  have  arrived  at  a 
formidable  maturity. 

The  rebellion  broke  out  in  the  early  part  of  1798.  It 
had  some  brilliant  temporary  successes  in  Wexford  County 
and  in  other  counties.  In  one  part  of  Wexford  the  move- 
ment was  literally  forced  upon  the  people  by  the  out- 
rageous conduct  of  the  militia  and  the  yeomanry.  One 
of  the  local  Irish  priests,  Father  John  Murphy,  had  used 
all  his  efforts  up  to  the  last  in  the  cause  of  order,  and  had 
been  most  energetic  in  persuading  the  people  to  give  up 
their  pikes  and  other  weapons  to  the  local  authorities. 
After  the  people  had  surrendered  their  arms  the  scourg- 

1798.         FATHER  JOHN   MURPHY  AND   MILES  BYRNE.  321 

mg,  shooting,  and  hanging  went  on  just  the  same  as  be- 
fore, and  Father  John  Murphy  and  numbers  of  his  parish- 
ioners were  forced  to  take  refuge  in  the  woods.  Then 
for  the  first  time  Father  Murphy  became  a  rebel.  More 
than  that,  he  became  all  at  once  an  insurgent  general.  He 
put  himself  at  the  head  of  the  despairing  peasantry,  and 
he  suddenly  developed  a  decided  talent  for  the  work  of  an 
insurgent  chief.  His  people  were  armed  for  the  most  part 
only  with  pitchforks  and  with  spades.  Their  pikes  had 
nearly  all  been  surrendered;  only  some  few  of  the  farm- 
ing class  had  guns;  and  there  was,  of  course,  no  sort  of 
heavy  artillery.  Father  Murphy  showed  his  people  how 
to  barricade  with  carts  the  road  through  which  a  body  of 
cavalry  were  expected  to  pass,  and  at  the  right  moment, 
just  when  the  cavalry  found  themselves  unexpectedly  ob- 
structed, the  insurgents  suddenly  attacked  them  with  pitch- 
forks and  spades,  won  a  complete  victory,  and  utterly 
routed  their  opponents.  By  this  success  the  rebels  became 
possessed  of  a  considerable  number  of  carbines,  and  were 
put  in  heart  for  further  enterprises.  Father  John  Murphy 
won  several  other  victories,  and  for  the  hour  was  master 
of  a  large  part  of  Wexford.  One  of  those  who  took  service 
under  him  was  a  young  man.  Miles  Byrne,  scarcely  eigh- 
teen 3^ears  of  age,  who  afterwards  rose  to  high  distinction 
in  the  French  army  under  Napoleon,  and  maintained  his 
position  and  repute  under  the  Eestoration,  and  might  have 
been  seen  up  to  the  year  1862,  a  white-headed,  white-beard- 
ed veteran,  sunning  himself  in  the  gardens  of  the  Tuil- 
eries.  Father  Murphy,  however,  was  not  able  long  to  hold 
out.  The  want  of  weapons,  the  want  of  money  and  of  all 
other  resources,  and  no  doubt  the  want  of  military  ex- 
perience, put  him  and  his  men  at  a  hopeless  disadvantage, 
and  he  was  defeated  in  the  end,  and  was  executed  in  the 
early  summer  of  1798. 

While  the  rebellion  lasted  there  were,  no  doubt,  many 
excesses  on  both  sides.  The  rebels  sometimes  could  not  be 
prevented  by  their  leaders  from  fearful  retaliations  on 
those  at  whose  hands  they  had  seen  their  kindred  suffer. 
The  gallant  Miles  Byrne  himself  has  told  us  in  his  memoirs 
VOL.  m. — 11 

322  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.lxi. 

how  in  certain  instances  he  found  it  impossible  to  check 
the  rage  of  his  followers  until  their  fury  had  found  some 
satisfaction  in  what  they  believed  to  be  the  wild  justice 
of  revenge.  No  one,  however,  who  has  studied  the  history 
of  the  times  even  as  it  is  told  by  loyalist  narrators  will  feel 
surprised  that  the  policy  which  had  forced  on  the  outbreak 
of  the  rebellion  should  have  driven  the  rebels  into  retalia- 
tion on  the  few  occasions  when  they  had  the  upper  hand 
and  found  their  enemies  at  their  mercy.  It  has  never 
been  denied  that  the  excesses  committed  by  the  rebels 
were  but  the  spasmodic  outbreaks  of  the  passion  of  re- 
taliation, and  that  the  Irish  leaders  everywhere  did  all 
they  could  to  keep  their  followers  within  the  bounds  of 
legitimate  warfare.  It  is  not  necessary  to  follow  out  in 
detail  the  story  of  the  rebellion.  With  no  material  help 
from  abroad  there  could  have  been  but  one  end  to  it,  and 
the  end  soon  came.  A  peasantry  armed  with  pikes  could 
hardly  hold  their  own  for  very  long  even  against  the 
militia  imported  from  Great  Britain,  the  Orange  yeo- 
manry, and  the  Hessian  troops  hired  from  Germany,  to  say 
nothing  of  the  regular  English  soldiers,  who  were  armed 
and  trained  to  war.  Even  the  militiamen  and  the  yeo- 
manry had  better  weapons  than  the  pikemen  who  followed 
their  Irish  leaders  to  the  death.  Before  the  rebellion  was 
wholly  crushed  Lord  Edward  Fitzgerald  was  dead.  The 
plans  arranged  by  the  leaders  of  the  movement  had  ap- 
pointed a  certain  day  for  the  rising  to  begin ;  the  outbreak 
in  Wexford,  as  has  already  been  shown,  was  entirely  unpre- 
meditated, and  merely  forced  on  by  events;  and,  as  might 
have  been  expected,  the  plans  were  betrayed  to  the  authori- 
ties of  Dublin  Castle.  Some  of  the  leaders  were  instantly 
arrested,  and  Lord  Edward  had  to  fly  and  conceal  himself. 
His  hiding-place  was  soon  discovered,  and  he  was  arrested 
in  Thomas  Street,  Dublin,  on  May  19,  1798.  Lord  Edward 
at  first  refused  to  surrender,  and  fought  desperately  for 
his  life.  He  wounded  some  of  his  assailants,  and  re- 
ceived himself  a  bullet  in  his  body.  He  was  then  carried 
to  prison,  where  he  died  sixteen  days  after.  "  Fitly  might 
the  stranger  lingering  here,"  as  Byron  says  of  another  hero, 



pray  for  that  gallant  spirit's  bright  repose."  Even 
George  the  Third  himself  might  have  felt  some  regret  for 
the  state  of  laws  which  had  turned  Edward  Fitzgerald 
into  an  enemv. 

Suddenly  another  attempt  to  help  Ireland  and  harass 
England  was  made  from  the  French  side  of  the  English 
Channel.  Bonaparte  was  away  on  his  Egyptian  expedi- 
tion, and  the  Directorv  in  his  absence  did  not  wish  to  fore- 
go  all  idea  of  sending  a  force  to  Ireland,  but  were  evi- 
dently not  very  strong  on  the  subject  and  did  not  seem 
quite  to  know  how  to  set  about  such  a  business.  For 
awhile  they  kept  two  or  three  small  bodies  of  troops  ready 
at  certain  ports  within  easy  reach  of  the  English  shores, 
and  a  number  of  vessels  at  each  port  waiting  for  sudden 
orders.  General  Humbert,  an  adventurous  soldier  of  for- 
tune, who  had  courage  enough  but  not  much  wisdom,  grew 
impatient  at  the  long  delay  of  the  Directory,  and  thought 
he  could  not  do  better  to  force  the  hand  of  the  Directory 
than  to  start  an  expedition  himself.  Accordingly  he  took 
command  of  a  force  of  about  a  thousand  men  in  number 
which  had  been  placed  at  his  disposal  for  an  undefined 
date,  and  with  three  or  four  ships  to  convey  his  men  he 
made  for  the  Irish  shores.  He  landed  at  Killala  Bav,  in 
the  province  of  Connaught,  and  he  made  his  way  inland 
as  far  as  the  county  of  Longford.  The  Irish  peasantry 
rallied  round  him  in  considerable  numbers,  and  were  re- 
ceived by  him  as  part  of  the  army  and  invested  with  the 
French  uniform.  He  began  his  march  with  a  sudden  and 
complete  victory  over  a  body  of  English  troops  considerably 
outnumbering  his  own  force,  but  whom  he  managed  clever- 
ly to  surprise,  and  among  whom  a  regular  panic  seems  to 
have  set  in.  Humbert's  scheme  was,  however,  hopeless. 
The  part  of  the  country  through  which  he  was  marching 
was  thinly  populated,  and  large  bodies  of  English  troops, 
under  experienced  commanders,  were  approaching  him 
from  all  sides.  By  the  time  he  had  reached  the  county  of 
Longford  he  found  himself  faced,  or  indeed  all  but  sur- 
rounded, by  the  royal  troops  under  the  command  of  Lord 
Cornwallis.     There  was  nothing  for  Humbert  but  to  sur- 

324  A   HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lxi. 

render,  and  he  and  his  French  followers  were  treated  as 
prisoners  of  war  after  a  final  and  brilliant  fight  and  sent 
back  to  France.  The  Irish  insurgents  who  had  fought 
under  his  leadership  dispersed  and  fled  after  the  sur- 
render, well  knowing  that  they  would  not  be  included  in  its 
terms  and  treated  as  prisoners  of  war,  and  they  were  pur- 
sued by  the  royal  troops  and  most  of  them  were  killed. 
Matthew  Tone,  a  brother  of  Wolfe  Tone,  was  one  of  those 
who  had  fought  under  Humbert.  He  was  made  prisoner, 
taken  to  Dublin,  and  executed  there  within  a  few  days. 
Thus  ended  the  second  expedition  from  France  for  the 
relief  of  Ireland. 

Wolfe  Tone  meanwhile  was  waiting  in  France,  hoping 
against  hope.  He  had  as  yet  known  nothing  of  the  fort- 
unes and  failure  of  Humbert's  expedition.  Some  ex- 
tracts from  a  letter  written  to  his  wife  about  this  time  have 
a  melancholy  interest. 

"  Touching  money  matters,  I  have  not  yet  received  a 
sou,  and  last  night  I  was  obliged  to  give  my  last  five 
guineas  to  my  countrymen  here.  I  can  shift  better  than 
they  can.  I  hope  to  receive  a  month's  pay  to-day,  but  it 
will  not  be  possible  to  remit  you  any  part  of  it;  you  must 
therefore  carry  on  the  war  as  best  you  can  for  three  or  four 
months,  and  before  that  is  out  we  will  see  further.  ...  I 
am  mortified  at  not  being  able  to  send  you  a  remittance, 
but  you  know  it  is  not  my  fault. 

"  We  embark  about  3000  men,  with  12  pieces  of  artil- 
lery, and  I  judge  about  20,000  stand  of  arms.  We  are 
enough,  I  trust,  to  do  the  business,  if  we  arrive  safe. 

"  With  regard  to  myself,  I  have  had  every  reason  to  be 
satisfied;  I  stand  fair  with  the  General  and  my  cama- 
rades;  I  am  in  excellent  health  and  spirits;  I  have  great 
confidence  in  the  success  of  our  enterprise;  and,  come 
what  may,  at  least  I  will  do  what  is  right.  The  time  is  so 
short  that  I  must  finish  this;  I  will,  if  possible,  write  to 
you  again,  but  if  we  should  unexpectedly  sail  my  next  will 
be,  I  hope,  from  Ireland." 

The  embarking  to  which  Tone  referred  was  that  of  an 
expedition  which  the  Directory  had  at  last  resolved  to 

1798.  THE    CAPTURE    OF   WOLFE    TONE.  325 

despatch  from  Brest  for  the  Irish  shore.  By  a  somewhat 
touching  coincidence  Tone  found  himself  on  board  a  war- 
vessel  called  the  "  Hoche/'  which  was  under  the  command 
of  the  admiral  of  the  little  fleet.  This  expedition  con- 
sisted of  one  sail  of  the  line  and  eight  frigates,  with  3000 
French  soldiers.  It  sailed  on  September  20,  1798;  but 
the  destinies  were  against  it,  as  they  had  been  against  its 
predecessors,  and  contrary  winds  compelled  the  admiral 
to  make  a  wide  sweep  out  of  what  would  otherwise  have 
been  its  natural  course.  It  was  not  until  October  10  that 
the  little  fleet,  then  reduced  to  four  vessels — the  others 
had  been  scattered — reached  the  shore  of  Lough  Swilly, 
on  the  northwest  coast  of  Ireland,  and  was  there  encoun- 
tered by  a  fleet  of  six  English  sail  of  the  line  and  two 
frigates.  The  admiral  of  the  French  fleet  saw  that  there 
was  no  chance  whatever  of  his  fighting  his  way  through 
such  an  opposition,  and  he  made  up  his  mind  to  offer  the 
best  resistance  he  could  for  the  honor  of  the  French  flag. 
He  promptly  gave  signals  for  the  lighter  vessels,  which 
would  have  been  of  little  practical  service  in  such  a  strug- 
gle, to  make  the  safest  retreat  they  could,  and  with  his  own 
vessel  resolved  rather  perhaps  to  do  and  die  than  to  do  or 
die.  A  boat  came  from  one  of  the  frigates  to  take  his  final 
instructions,  and  he  and  all  the  French  officers,  naval  and 
military,  who  were  on  board  the  "  Hoche  "  strongly  urged 
Wolfe  Tone  to  go  to  the  frigate  in  the  boat  and  thus  save 
his  life.  They  pointed  out  to  him  that  if  they  were  capt- 
ured they  must  be  treated  as  prisoners  of  war,  but  that  no 
mercy  would  be  shown  to  him,  a  subject  of  King  George, 
taken  in  French  uniform.  Wolfe  Tone  peremptorily  de- 
clined to  accept  the  General's  advice.  It  should  never  be 
said  of  him,  he  declared,  that  he  saved  his  life  and  left 
Frenchmen  to  fight  and  die  in  the  cause  of  his  country. 
A  fierce  naval  battle  took  place,  and  the  French  admiral 
fought  until  he  was  overpowered,  and  had  no  course  left 
to  him  but  to  surrender.  The  French  officers  who  had 
survived  the  fight  were  all  taken  to  Letterkenny,  Tone 
among  the  number.  Tone  was  in  French  uniform,  and 
might  have  passed  unrecognized  as  a  French  officer  but  that 

326  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lxi. 

an  Ulster  magnate,  Sir  George  Hill,  who  had  known  him 
in  earlier  days,  became  at  once  aware  of  his  identity,  and 
addressed  him  by  name.  Tone  calmly  and  civilly  replied 
to  the  greeting,  and  courteously  asked  after  the  health  of 
the  wife  of  his  discoverer.  Then  all  was  over  so  far  as 
Tone  was  concerned.  He  was  conveved  to  Dublin  and 
tried  by  court-martial  as  a  rebel  and  a  traitor  to  George 
the  Third.  He  defended  himself  in  a  speech  of  remarkable 
eloquence — that  is,  if  he  can  be  said  to  have  defended  him- 
self when  his  whole  speech  was  a  frank  avowal  of  his  pur- 
pose to  fight  for  the  independence  of  Ireland.  He  declared 
that  he  thoroughly  understood  the  consequences  of  his 
failure,  and  was  prepared  to  abide  by  them.  "  Washing- 
ton," he  said,  "  succeeded,  and  Kosciusko  failed ;"  and  he 
only  insisted  that  in  his  case,  as  in  that  of  Kosciusko, 
failure  brought  with  it  no  dishonor.  The  one  sole  appeal 
which  he  made  was  that  he  might  be  allowed  to  die  a 
soldier's  death — that  he  might  be  shot  and  not  hanged. 
Tone  was  found  guilty,  of  course;  there  was  no  choice 
left  to  the  court-martial  on  that  question,  and  his  appeal 
as  to  the  mode  of  his  death  was  refused  by  the  Lord- 
Lieutenant.  John  Philpot  Curran,  the  great  advocate, 
made  a  motion  in  the  King's  Bench  to  the  effect  that  Tone 
should  be  removed  from  the  custody  of  the  Provost-Mar- 
shal and  tried  before  a  civil  tribunal,  on  the  ground  that 
Tone  was  not  in  the  English  army,  and  that,  as  the  civil 
courts  were  sitting,  there  was  no  warrant  for  the  inter- 
ference of  martial  law.  The  Lord  Chief  Justice,  Lord  Kil- 
warden,  a  man  whose  public  spirit  and  whose  devotion  to 
law  and  justice  would  have  done  honor  to  any  bench,  ruled 
in  favor  of  Curran's  appeal,  and  ordered  that  Tone  be 
removed  from  the  custody  of  the  Provost-Marshal.  When 
the  Provost-Marshal  declined  to  obey  the  order  the  Chief 
Justice  directed  that  the  Provost-Marshal  be  taken  into 
custody,  and  that  he,  along  with  Tone,  be  brought  before 
the  Court.  The  decision  came  too  late  so  far  as  Tone  was 
concerned.  Eather  than  endure  the  ignominy  of  a  public 
execution  by  the  gallows,  which  he  believed  to  be  awaiting 
.him,  he  had  found  means  to  open  a  vein  in  his  throat, 

1778-1803.  ROBERT  EMMET.  327 


You  see  I  am  but  a  poor  anatomist/'  he  said  with  a  quiet 
smile  to  the  surgeon  who  was  brought  to  his  bedside.  He 
lingered  in  a  half-unconscious  state  for  a  few  days  and 
then  died.  His  death  was  the  closing  event  of  the  Irish 
insurrection  of  1798. 

There  was,  however,  a  sort  of  afterbirth  of  the  struggle 
of  "  Xinety-Eight "  in  the  attempt  hazarded  by  Eobert 
Emmet,  to  which  we  have  already  made  anticipatory  allu- 
sion. Eobert  Emmet,  the  brother  of  Thomas  Addis  Em- 
met, was  a  young  Irishman  of  great  abilities  and  of  gen- 
erous, unselfish,  imprudent  enthusiasm.  He  could  not 
bring  himself  to  believe  that  the  hopes  of  Irish  independ- 
ence were  buried  even  in  the  graves  of  Lord  Edward  Fitz- 
gerald and  ^Yolfe  Tone.  He  had  no  trust  whatever  in  any 
assistance  to  be  given  from  France,  but  he  set  himself  to 
organize  a  movement  which  should  be  Irish  only  and 
should  find  its  whole  organization  and  its  battle-field  on  the 
soil  of  Ireland.  He  found  numbers  of  brave  and  ardent 
young  men  to  assist  him,  and  he  planned  out  another  ris- 
ing, which  was  to  begin  with  a  seizure  of  Dublin  Castle  and 
a  holding  of  the  capital  as  a  centre  and  a  citadel  of  the  new 
movement  for  Irish  independence.  Emmet's  passion  for 
national  independence  had  been  strengthened  by  the  pass- 
ing of  the  Act  of  Union.  The  Act  of  Union  had  long  been 
a  project  in  the  mind  of  Pitt,  and  indeed  it  was  the  opinion 
of  many  observers  then,  and  of  some  historical  students 
from  that  time  to  the  present,  that  Pitt  had  forced  on  the 
Irish  rebellion  in  order  to  give  an  excuse  for  the  absolute 
extinction  of  the  Irish  Parliament  and  the  centralization 
of  the  system  of  government  in  the  Parliament  sitting  at 
Westminster.  It  is,  at  all  events,  quite  certain  that  Pitt 
accomplished  his  scheme  for  a  legislative  union  between 
Great  Britain  and  Ireland  by  a  wholesale  system  of  bribery, 
the  bribery  taking  the  form  of  peerages,  of  high-salaried 
appointments,  of  liberal  pensions,  and  even  of  sums  of 
ready  money.  All  that  was  really  national  in  the  Irish 
Parliament  fought  to  the  last  against  Pitt's  Act  of  Union, 
but  the  Act  was  carried,  and  it  came  into  operation  on 
January  1,  1801 .    The  Act  itself  and  the  methods  by  which 

328  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lxi. 

it  was  passed  only  gave  to  Robert  Emmet  a  fresh  stimulus 
to  prepare  his  plans  for  the  independence  of  Ireland.  We 
need  not  follow  in  detail  the  story  of  these  plans  and  the 
attempt  to  put  them  into  execution.  Robert  Emmet's 
projects  were,  no  doubt,  all  well  known  to  the  authorities 
of  Dublin  Castle  before  any  attempt  could  be  made  to 
carry  them  out.  In  any  case  their  chances  of  success  seem 
to  have  depended  very  much  upon  the  simultaneous  action 
of  a  great  number  of  persons  in  a  great  number  of  different 
places,  and  the  history  of  every  secret  revolutionary  move- 
ment tells  us  of  the  almost  insuperable  difficulty  there  is 
in  getting  all  the  actors  of  such  a  drama  to  appear  upon 
the  stage  at  the  same  moment  and  at  the  right  moment. 
Emmet's  plan  broke  down,  and  it  ended  not  even  in  a 
general  rising  of  the  nationalists  of  Dublin,  but  in  a  mere 
street  riot,  the  most  sad  and  shocking  event  in  which  was 
the  murder  of  the  Lord  Chief  Justice,  Lord  Kilwarden. 
While  Emmet,  in  another  part  of  the  city,  was  vainly 
striving  to  retrieve  the  disorder  into  which  the  excesses 
of  some  of  his  followers  had  broken  up  the  plan  of  attack. 
Lord  Kilwarden's  carriage  was  stopped  by  a  body  of  un- 
disciplined and  infuriated  rioters,  and  one  man  thrust  a 
pLke  into  Kilwarden's  body.  Emmet  himself  came  too 
late  upon  the  scene  to  rescue  the  Chief  Justice,  and  from 
that  moment  he  gave  up  all  hope  of  anything  like  orderly 
action  on  the  part  of  the  insurgents,  and  indeed  his  whole 
effort  was  to  get  his  followers  to  disperse  and  to  stop  any 
rising  in  the  adjacent  counties.  Kilwarden  died  soon  after 
he  had  received  his  wound,  but  not  before  he  had  uttered  the 
noble  injunction  that  no  man  should  suffer  for  his  death 
without  full  and  lawful  trial.  Seldom  has  even  the  assas- 
sin's hand  stricken  a  worse  blow  than  that  which  killed 
liOrd  Kilwarden.  In  an  age  when  corrupt  judges  and  par- 
tial judges  were  not  uncommon,  Kilwarden  was  upright, 
honorable  and  just.  The  fiercest  nationalist  of  the  day  la- 
mented his  death.  He  had  again  and  again  stood  before  the 
Crown  officials  and  interposed  the  shield  of  law  between 
them  and  the  victims  whom  they  strove  by  any  process  to 
bring  to  death.     Emmet  made  his  way  into  Wicklow  with 

1803.  THE   EXECUTION   OF   ROBERT   EMMET.  329 

the  main  purpose  of  stopping  the  intended  outbreak  of  in- 
surrection there,  as  he  saw  now  that  no  such  attempts  could, 
under  the  conditions,  end  in  anything  but  useless  bloodshed. 
His  friends  urged  him  to  make  his  escape  to  France,  and  he 
might  easily  have  escaped  but  that  he  went  back  to  Dub- 
lin with  the  hope  of  seeing  once  again  Sarah  Curran,  the 
youngest  daughter  of  the  great  advocate,  with  whom  he 
was  devotedly  in  love.  He  was  recognized,  arrested,  and 
sent  to  trial  before  Lord  Xorbury,  a  judge  who  bore  a  very 
different  sort  of  reputation  from  that  which  honored  Lord 
Kilwarden.  Emmet  made  a  brilliant  and  touching  speech, 
not  in  defence  of  himself  against  the  charge  of  trying  to 
create  a  rebellion,  for  he  avowed  his  purpose  and  glorified 
it,  but  in  vindication  of  his  cause  and  in  utter  denial  of 
the  accusation  commonly  brought  against  him  that  he  in- 
tended to  make  his  country  the  subject  of  France.  He  was 
found  guilty,  sentenced  to  death,  and  executed  on  the 
morning  after  his  trial.  Thomas  Moore,  the  Irish  poet, 
who  was  a  college  friend  of  Emmet's,  has  embalmed  his 
memory  in  three  beautiful  songs,  "  She  is  far  from  the  land 
where  her  young  hero  sleeps,"  she  being  of  course  Sarah 
Curran,  to  whom  Emmet  addressed  his  last  written  words; 
"  Oh,  breathe  not  his  name,"  and  "  When  he  who  adores 
thee,"  an  appeal  to  Ireland  to  remember  him  who  had  at 
least  "  the  pride  of  thus  dying  for  thee."  Washington 
Irving,  the  American  author,  devoted  a  touching  essay, 
called  "  The  Broken  Heart,"  to  the  story  of  Eobert  Emmet 
and  his  blighted  passion.  The  lovers  of  romance  may  be 
somewhat  disconcerted  to  hear  that  Sarah  Curran  married 
after  her  young  hero's  death;  but  she  remained  single 
many  years,  and  there  is  no  reason  to  suppose  that  she  ever 
forgot  or  disclaimed  her  affection  for  Eobert  Emmet. 
Wolfe  Tone's  wife  married  again  some  sixteen  years  after 
the  husband  of  her  youth  had  passed  away.  Her  grave  is 
to  be  seen  in  a  cemetery  close  to  Washington,  in  the  United 
States,  the  land  in  which  Wolfe  Tone's  widow  passed  all 
the  later  vears  of  her  life. 

With  the  failure  and  the  death  of  Eobert  Emmet  closed 
the  last  rebellious  rising  in  Ireland  which  belongs  to  the 

830  A  HISTORY  OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lxi. 

history  of  the  Georges.  Pitt's  Act  of  Union  is  still  in 
force,  but  it  would  be  idle  to  say  that  it  is  anything  more 
than  in  force.  The  union  between  England  and  Scotland. 
to  which  Pitt's  supporters  so  often  triumphantly  appealed, 
was  made  under  conditions  and  on  terms  totally  different 
from  those  which  had  to  do  with  the  union  between  Eng- 
land and  Ireland. 

1793-1816.     THE  GENIUS  OF  THE   GREAT  BONAPARTE.  331 



I^OTHING  in  the  history  of  the  world  is  quite  as  wonder- 
ful as  the  history  of  the  first  Napoleon.  No  other  man 
ever  rose  from  so  little  to  so  much,  ever  played  a  greater 
part  in  the  eyes  of  the  civilized  world,  was  more  mon- 
strous in  his  triumphs  or  more  tragic  in  his  fall.  Every- 
thing connected  with  his  strange  career  was  distorted,  ex- 
aggerated, seemingly  out  of  all  proportion  to  the  familiari- 
ties, the  conventionalities,  and  even  the  possibilities  of  ex- 
istence. As  the  ancient  Grreeks,  in  their  sculpture,  for  the 
delineation  of  their  gods  permitted  themselves  the  use  of 
the  heroic  size  and  made  their  immortals  and  their  demi- 
gods more  than  common  tall,  and  more  than  common 
comel}^,  so  might  the  modern  historian  seem  privileged  in 
the  use  of  a  superlative  style  in  dealing  with  a  life  so  phe- 
nomenal, so  unbounded  by  the  average  horizon,  so  ungov- 
erned  by  the  ordinary  laws.  And  yet  no  more  is  needed 
than  the  cold  statement  of  the  stages  in  that  great  stor)% 
of  the  steps  which  conducted  to  the  summit  of  the  pyramid 
onlv  to  be  descended  on  the  other  side.  Such  a  statement 
is  itself  the  sermon  on  an  earthly  glory  that  was  almost  un- 
earthly in  the  vastness  of  its  aims  and  of  its  gains,  and  on 
a  humiliation  that  restored  humanity  to  reason  and  re- 
affirmed the  inexorable  lesson.  As  the  mere  names  of  bat- 
tles on  the  commemorative  arch  appeal  to  the  memories, 
the  ambitions,  and  the  passions  of  a  military  race  with  a 
monumental  emphasis  that  is  not  to  be  rivalled  by  the 
painter  or  writer,  so  a  few  simple  words  serve  to  contrast 
with  a  simplicity  that  is  in  itself  a  pomp  the  crowns  and 
the  catastrophes  of  that  amazing  visitation.  "  Corsica," 
"  St.     Helena,"     "  Brumaire,"     "  i\roscow,"     "  Toulon," 

332  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lxii. 

"  Waterloo."  The  chronicle  of  the  great  conqueror  is  writ- 
ten in  little  in  the  names  of  two  islands,  two  battles,  and 
two  towns. 

To  Frenchmen,  even  to  the  Frenchmen  who  are  most 
opposed  to  him,  Napoleon  must  always  be  an  object  for 
gratitude  and  for  admiration.  The  most  passionate  cham- 
pion of  the  Bourbon  lilies  and  the  doctrine  of  the  divine 
right  of  kings  cannot  refuse  to  recognize  that  Napoleon 
Bonaparte  gave  to  France  a  greater  military  glory  than 
she  had  ever  known  or  ever  dreamed  of  before.  The  most 
devout  disciple  of  the  principles  of  '89,  the  fieriest  apostle 
of  the  Eevolution  that  went  down  into  the  dust  before  the 
cunning  of  Barras  and  the  cannon  of  the  Corsican  advent- 
urer, is  obliged  to  admit  the  splendid  services  that  Na- 
poleon Bonaparte  rendered  to  his  adopted  country.  The 
one  antagonist  confesses  that  the  Napoleonic  eagles  flew 
with  the  length  of  flight  and  the  strength  of  wing  of  the 
Eoman  eagles.  The  other  antagonist  sees  with  approval 
the  Code  Napoleon  and  the  Order  of  the  Legion  of  Honor, 
the  Simplon  Road  and  the  Canal  of  St.  Quentin,  the  en- 
couragement given  to  arts,  to  letters,  and  to  commerce,  the 
reorganization  of  finance  and  the  reconstitution  of  the 
army.  But  to  the  average  Englishman  of  that  time,  and 
for  long  afterwards.  Napoleon  was  first  and  last  and  al- 
ways the  implacable  enemy  of  Great  Britain.  From  the 
day  of  Toulon  to  the  day  of  Waterloo,  Bonaparte  was  the 
Big  Bogey  of  England;  always  either  fighting  against  her 
openly  or  plotting  against  her  secretly,  always  guided  by 
one  purpose,  always  haunted  by  one  hope — the  conquest 
of  a  country  that  had  learned  to  look  upon  herself  as  un- 
conquerable. Pitt,  who  hated  war,  was  destined  to  play 
the  uncongenial  part  of  a  War  Minister,  with  one  short 
interval,  for  the  rest  of  his  life,  and  to  devote  his  genius 
and  his  energy  to  a  life-and-death  struggle  with  the  soldier 
of  fortune  who  was  yesterday  the  hero  of  Italy,  to-day  First 
Consul,  to-morrow  to  be  Emperor  of  the  French.  The 
story  of  Pitt's  life,  for  the  rest  of  Pitt's  life,  is  the  story 
of  a  struggle  against  Napoleon,  a  struggle  maintained 
under  difficulties  and  disadvantages  that  might  well  have 

1803-16.  ENGLAND'S  FEAR  OF  NAPOLEON.  333 

broken  a  strong  man's  heart,  and  that  seemed  to  end  in 
disaster  when  the  strong  man's  heart  was  broken. 

It  looked  for  long  enough  as  if  nothing  could  withstand 
the  military  genius  or  sate  the  ambition  of  Kapoleon.  On 
his  sword  sat  laurel  victory,  and  smooth  success  was  strewn 
before  his  feet.  He  overran  Egypt,  and  dreamed  of  rival- 
ling the  Eastern  conquests  of  Alexander.  The  Kingdoms 
of  Europe  crumpled  up  before  him.  On  land  he  seemed 
to  be  little  less  than  invincible.  England  was  only  safe 
from  him  because  England  held  the  supremacy  of  the  sea. 
When  the  war  with  France  began  England  was  blessed 
with  an  effective  navy,  and  England's  fleet  was  England's 
fortune  in  the  days  when  the  conqueror  of  a  continent  was 
the  nightmare  of  an  island.  A  monstrous  regiment  of 
caricaturists  were  painting  themselves  into  fame  by  fan- 
tastic and  ferocious  presentations  of  the  man  who  was  so 
fiercely  hated  because  he  was  so  greatly  dreaded.  Some  of 
these  caricatures  are  pitifully  ignoble,  some  in  their  kind 
are  masterpieces;  all  are  animated  by  a  great  fury  that  is 
partly  the  outcome  of  a  great  fear.  For  years  that  fear 
was  always  present;  for  years  it  was  always  well  within 
the  bounds  of  possibility  that  the  fear  might  be  realized 
in  a  great  national  catastrophe.  In  every  coast  town  of 
England  men  volunteered  and  drilled  and  manned  de- 
fences, and  scanned  with  anxious  eyes  the  horizon  for  the 
sails  that  were  to  fulfil  a  menace  more  terrible  than  the 
menace  of  the  Armada.  England's  military  fame  had 
dwindled  on  the  battle-fields  of  Europe;  England's 
strength  at  home  was  as  nothing  compared  to  the  strength 
that  France  could  employ  against  her  if  once  France  could 
obtain  a  landing  on  her  shores.  Xapoleon  had  declared 
scornfully  that  the  country  with  the  few  millions  of  men 
must  give  way  to  the  country  with  many  millions  of  men. 
All  that  he  needed  to  reduce  England,  as  he  had  reduced 
so  many  other  of  the  kingdoms  of  the  earth,  was  to  place 
his  armed  majority  where  it  could  act  with  overwhelming 
force  against  an  armed  minority.  Only  one  thing  lay 
between  him  and  his  purpose,  but  that  one  thing  was  the 
navy  of  England.    Xapoleon  knew  that  if  he  had  but  com- 

334  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR   GEORGES.  ch.  lxii. 

mand  of  the  Channel  for  a  very  few  hours  the  landing  of 
which  he  had  dreamed,  and  for  which  he  had  schemed  so 
long,  would  be  a  reality,  and  a  march  on  London  as  easy 
as  a  march  on  Vienna.  But  he  never  got  those  few  hours' 
command  of  the  sea.  Perhaps  no  greater  monument  of 
human  vanity  exists  than  the  medal  which  Napoleon, 
madly  prophesying,  caused  to  be  struck  in  commemoration 
of  the  conquest  of  England.  Perhaps  no  pages  of  all  the 
pages  of  history  are  more  splendid  than  those  which  record 
the  triumphs  and  the  glories  of  the  English  fleet  in  the 
mortal  struggle  with  France.  When  the  great  war  began 
it  was  well  for  England  that  her  navy  was  in  effective  con- 
dition ;  it  was  perhaps  better  still  that  the  traditions  of  her 
navy  were  rich  with  heroic  deeds,  examples  splendid  to 
emulate,  hard  to  surpass,  but  which,  however,  the  sailors 
of  King  George  the  Third  were  destined  to  surpass. 

Yet  the  conditions  of  life  under  which  the  English  sailor 
lived  were  scarcely  of  a  kind  to  foster  the  serene,  austere 
virtues  of  patriotism  and  heroism.  The  English  sailor 
was  often  snared  into  the  active  service  of  his  country 
sorely  against  his  will  by  means  of  the  odious  instrument 
for  recruiting  known  as  the  press-gang.  His  existence  on 
board  the  mighty  and  beautiful  men-of-war  was  a  life  that 
at  its  best  was  a  life  of  the  severest  hardship,  and  that  at 
its  worst  was  hard  indeed  to  endure.  He  and  his  fellows 
were  herded  together  under  conditions  of  indescribable 
filth,  squalor,  and  discomfort,  often  foolishly  ill-fed,  often 
cruelly  ill-treated,  often  the  victims  of  intolerable  tyranny 
from  brutal  superiors.  It  is  sometimes  little  short  of 
marvellous  that  the  sailors  on  whose  faith  the  safety  of 
England  depended  should  have  proved  so  faithful,  so  cheer- 
ful, so  desperately  brave.  There  was,  indeed,  a  moment 
when  the  faith  of  some  of  them  failed,  and  when  the  safety 
of  England  was  in  greater  jeopardy  than  it  had  been  in 
since  the  crescent  of  the  Armada  was  reported  off  Ply- 
mouth or  the  Dutch  ships  lay  in  the  Med  way.  While  the 
war  with  France  was  still  in  its  gloomy  dawn  the  unwis- 
dom of  treating  British  sailors  worse  than  beasts  of  burden 
came  near  to  wrecking  the  kingdom.     In  1797  the  crews 

1797.  MUTINIES  IN   THE  BRITISH   NAVY.  335 

of  very  man}^  of  the  King's  ships  were  exasperated  by  ill- 
treatments  and  injustices  of  many  kinds,  exasperated  most 
of  all  by  the  fatal  folly  of  long  arrears  of  pay — a  folly 
which  in  France,  but  eight  years  earlier,  had  been  one  of 
the  most  powerful  factors  in  aiding  the  spread  of  the 
Eevolution.    There  came  a  point  when  the  sense  of  injury 
seemed  too  hard  to  bear,  and  England  was  startled  by  the 
news  of  a  mutiny  at  Spithead.    But  the  mutiny,  if  alarm- 
ing, was  kept  within  moderate  bounds  and  under  control 
by  the  mutineers ;  it  was  temperately  met  and  temperately 
dealt  with  by  Lord  Howe,  and  it  soon  came  to  an  end.    It 
was  immediately  followed  by  a  far  more  alarming  mutiny 
which   broke   out   among  the   ships   at  the   Nore.      This 
mutiny,  headed  by  a  seaman  named  Parker,  who  proved 
himself  a  bold  and  daring  spirit,  swelled  swiftly  to  serious 
proportions.      Londoners   saw   the   mouth   of   their   river 
blockaded  by  the  war-ships  of  England,  saw  their  capital 
city  fortified  against  the  menaces  of  the  men  they  relied 
upon  as  their  saviors.    Admiral  Duncan,  busily  engaged  in 
keeping  a  Dutch  fleet  cooped  up  in  the  river  Texel,  sud- 
denly beheld  almost  the  whole  of  his  squadron  desert  him 
and  sail  away  to  join  Parker  and  his  fellow-mutineers  at 
the  N'ore.    It  was  one  of  the  gravest  crises  in  English  his- 
tor}^  one  of  the  greatest  perils  that  England  had  to  face 
during  the  whole  of  the  French  war.    But  the  danger  was 
weathered,  the  peril  overcome.    The  Government  faced  the 
dangers  of  mutiny  as  firmly  as  they  had  faced  the  dangers 
of  the  war.     Whatever  the  provocation,  mutiny  at  such  a 
moment  Avas  a  national  crime.     It  flickered  out  as  tamely 
as  it  blazed  up  fiercely.     Parker  and  some  of  his  fellow- 
conspirators  were  hanged,  strong  men  dying  unhappily, 
and  once  again  England  had  only  her  foreign  foes  to 
reckon  with.     Over  away  by  the  Texel  stout-hearted  Dun- 
can, with  only  his  flagship  and  two  frigates  to  represent 
the  sea  power  of  England,  met  the  difficulty  with  a  shifti- 
ness worthy  of  Ulysses.     Through  all  his  long  hours  of 
loneliness   he   kept   on   gallantly   signalling   away   to   an 
imaginary  fleet,   and  the  Dutchmen   in  the   Texel  little 
dreamed  that  they  were  held  in  check  by  a  deserted  admiral 

336  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lxii. 

upon  a  desolate  sea.  When  at  last  they  emerged,  Duncan's 
danger  was  over ;  his  faithless  vessels  had  returned  to  their 
faith,  and  the  crushing  victory  of  Camperdown  consoled 
one  of  the  bravest  of  the  brave  for  an  agony  unrivalled  in 
the  story  of  the  sea. 

The  British  admirals  are  the  heroes  of  the  dying  eigh- 
teenth century.  "  Admirals  all,  they  said  their  say,  the 
echoes  are  rising  still " — in  the  words  of  Henry  Newbolt's 
gallant  song.  "  Admirals  all,  they  went  their  way  to  the 
haven  under  the  hill."  Dundonald  was  called,  and  finely 
called,  the  last  of  the  sea-kings;  but  they  were  all  true 
kinsmen  of  the  Vikings,  the  admirals  who  were  famous 
figures  in  Dundonald's  fiery  youth  and  famous  memories 
in  Dundonald's  noble  age.  And  as  the  admirals 
were,  so  were  the  captains,  so  were  the  men.  Fearney 
sticking  the  surrendered  swords  in  a  sheaf  under  his  arm ; 
Walton  calmly  informing  his  superior  that  "  we  have  taken 
or  destroyed  all  the  Spanish  ships  on  this  coast:  number 
as  per  margin,"  are  typical  figures  in  a  tradition  of  a 
courage  so  superlative  that  Admiral  Sir  Eobert  Calder, 
who  fought  very  gallantly  and  took  two  ships,  was  tried 
by  court-martial  and  severely  reprimanded  for  not  having 
destroyed  the  French  fleet.  The  age  of  George  the  Third 
would  be  memorable,  if  it  were  memorable  for  nothing 
else,  for  the  deeds  and  the  glories  of  the  great  sea  fights 
and  the  great  sea  fighters  who  saved  England  from  in- 
vasion, knocking  the  tall  ships  of  France  to  pieces,  taking 
monstrous  odds  with  alacrity,,  eager  to  engage  in  all 
weathers  and  under  all  conditions,  cheerfully  converting 
what  seemed  an  impossible  task  into  not  merely  a  feasible 
but  an  easy  piece  of  business.  There  are  some  sea  battles 
of  that  time,  fought  out  in  storm  and  darkness,  which  read 
in  the  tamest  statement  with  the  pomp  and  beauty  of  the 
most  majestic  music.  The  names  of  the  great  admirals 
must  always  be  dear  to  English  ears,  must  always  sound 
sweet  on  English  lips.  St.  Vincent,  Collingwood,  Howe, 
Duncan,  the  noble  list  proceeds,  each  name  illuminated 
with  its  only  splendid  story  of  desperate  enterprise  and 
deathless  honor,  till  the  proudest  name  of  all  is  reached, 

1758-1805.  NELSON.  337 

and  praise  itself  seems  to  falter  and  fall  off  before  the 
lonely  grandeur  of  Xelson.  jS'ever  was  a  little  life  filled 
with  greater  achievements;  never  was  a  little  body  more 
compact  of  the  virtues  that  make  great  captains  and 
brave  men.  The  life  that  began  in  the  September  of  1758 
and  that  ended  in  the  October  of  1805  holds  in 
the  compass  of  its  forty-seven  years  the  epitome  of  what 
England  meant  for  Englishmen  in  the  days  of  its  greatest 
peril  and  its  greatest  glory.  Magnificent,  magniloquent, 
turbulent,  it  is  starred  with  glowing  phrases  as  thickly  as 
with  glowing  deeds.  "  Fear !  I  never  saw  fear :  what  is 
it  ?"  "  A  peerage,  or  Westminster  Abbey ;''  the  immortal 
signal ;  the  famous  saying  off  Copenhagen :  "  It  is  warm 
work;  this  day  will  be  the  last  to  many  of  us,  but  I  would 
not  be  elsewhere  for  thousands;"  the  pathos  of  the  dying 
lover :  "  Let  my  dear  Lady  Hamilton  have  my  hair ;" 
and  the  pride  of  the  dying  hero :  "  Thank  God,  I  have 
done  my  duty  " — all  these  things  are  the  splendid  orna- 
ments of  a  splendid  career;  they  gleam  on  his  story  as  his 
stars  and  orders  gleamed  upon  his  breast  when  the  "  Vic- 
tory "  renewed  her  name.  With  the  battle  of  Trafalgar 
and  the  destruction  of  the  allied  French  and  Spanish  fleets 
jSTapoleon's  dream  of  England's  conquest  came  to  an  end. 
The  result  was  bought  at  a  great  price,  the  price  of  Nelson's 
life.  But  Nelson  had  done  his  work,  and  done  it  well.  He 
saved  his  country ;  he  had  deserved  well  of  his  countrymen ; 
he  summed  in  himself  all  the  qualities  that  made  the  Eng- 
lish sailor  the  idol  of  his  people  and  the  terror  of  his  foes. 

While  Nelson  still  lived  and  conquered,  there  came  a 
check  to  the  troubled  supremacy  of  Pitt.  In  1801 — when 
the  memories  of  the  battle  of  the  Nile  and  the  defence  of 
Acre  were  still  fresh  in  men's  thoughts,  and  Napoleon  had 
been  for  a  year  First  Consul — Pitt,  baffled  by  circum- 
stances, surrendered  to  mediocrity  and  Addington  was 
Prime  Minister  in  his  place.  For  three  disastrous  years 
Addington  was  permitted  to  prove  his  incompetency,  till 
in  1804  Pitt,  as  the  only  possible  man,  came  back  to  power 
to  face  a  Napoleon  more  menacing  than  ever,  a  Napoleon 
now,  in  that  same  year,  crowned  and  triumphant  as  Em- 

338  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lxii. 

peror  of  the  French.  England  was  Mistress  of  the  Seas, 
but  Napoleon  was  Master  of  Europe.  Pitt's  health  was 
fading  swiftly;  he  watched  with  despair  the  progress  of  his 
enemy.  Ulm  came,  and  Austerlitz,  and  Austerlitz  struck 
Pitt  at  the  heart. 

The  closing  hours  of  Pitt's  career  were  as  troubled  and 
as  gloomy  as  its  dawn  had  been  radiant  and  serene.  It 
may  have  cost  him  little  to  be  reconciled  with  the  pompous 
mediocrity  of  Addington,  and  thereby  to  placate  the  King. 
His  nature  could  afford  to  be  magnanimous  to  the  un- 
grateful incompetency  that  was  able  only  in  betrayal. 
It  need  not  have  given  a  pang  to  that  proud  and 
lonely  spirit  to  welcome  into  the  Cabinet  the  Earl  of  Buck- 
inghamshire, who  had  wedded  the  one  fair  woman  whose 
heart  Pitt  had  won  and  lost.  But  the  anguish  of  his  soul 
was  wrung  into  expression  by  the  fall  of  Dundas.  He  had 
loved  Dundas,  who  was  now  Lord  Melville,  long  and  well. 
Lord  Melville's  conduct  as  Treasurer  to  the  Navy  pro- 
voked from  the  Opposition  a  series  of  condemnatory  reso- 
lutions. In  spite  of  all  that  Pitt  could  do,  the  resolutions 
were  supported  by  many  of  his  followers,  by  many  of  his 
friends,  by  one  friend  conspicuous  among  all,  by  Wilber- 
force.  The  division  was  neck  and  neck,  216  to  216;  the 
Speaker,  "  white  as  a  sheet,"  gave  the  casting  vote  against 
Dundas  which  stabbed  Pitt  to  the  core.  Whether  it  were 
or  no,  as  Wilberf orce  maintained,  a  "  false  principle  of 
honor  "  which  led  the  great  minister  to  support  Melville, 
Pitt  felt  the  blow  as  he  had  felt  nothing  before  and  was  to 
feel  but  one  thing  again.  Pitt  pulled  his  little  cocked  hat 
over  his  forehead  to  hide  his  tears.  One  brutal  adversary. 
Sir  Thomas  Mostyn,  raised  the  wild  yell  of  triumph  that 
denotes  to  huntsmen  the  death  of  the  fox.  Another  savage, 
Colonel  AVardle,  urged  his  friends  to  come  and  see  "  how 
Billy  looked  after  it."  But  the  young  Tory  gentlemen 
rallied  around  their  hero.  They  made  a  circle  of  locked 
arms,  and  with  looks  and  words  that  meant  swords  they 
kept  the  aggressors  off.  In  their  midst  Pitt  moved  uncon- 
sciously out  of  the  House — a  broken-hearted  man. 

The  heart  of  Pitt  was  allowed  to  feel  one  pulse  of  pride 

1806.  DEATH  OF  PITT.  339 

and  pleasure  before  it  ceased  to  beat.  Pitt  shared  in  the 
triumph  of  Trafalgar;  he  made  his  best  and  noblest  ap- 
pearance in  public;  made  his  last  most  splendid  speech: 
"  Europe  is  not  to  be  saved  by  any  single  man,"  he  said  to 
those  who  saluted  him  at  the  Guildhall  as  the  savior  of 
Europe.  "  England  has  saved  herself  by  her  exertions,  and 
will,  I  trust,  save  Europe  by  her  example.''  A  few  weeks 
later,  in  the  December  of  1805,  Pitt  was  at  Bath,  when  a 
courier  brought  him  the  news  of  the  battle  of  Austerlitz. 
The  news  practically  killed  him.  He  had  long  been  ailing 
grievously.  Sir  Walter  Farquhar's  account  of  Pitt's 
health,  lately  made  public  by  Lord  Eosebery,  proves  that 
the  bod}^  which  cased  that  great  spirit  was  indeed  a  ruined 
body.  Grief  and  anxiety  had  stamped  lines  of  care  and 
sorrow  upon  his  face,  which  gave  it  what  Wilberforce  af- 
terwards called  "  the  Austerlitz  look."  The  phrase  is 
famous  and  admirable,  if  not  exactly  accurate  as  used  by 
Wilberforce,  for  Lord  Stanhope  shows  that  Wilberforce 
never  saw  Pitt  after  the  battle  of  Austerlitz  was  fought. 
With  the  Austerlitz  look  on  his  face,  Pitt  travelled  to  Lon- 
don, to  the  villa  now  known  as  Bowling  Green  House  at 
Putney.  With  the  Austerlitz  look  on  his  face  he  surren- 
dered himself  to  the  care  of  his  niece.  Lady  Hester  Stan- 
hope, who  afterwards  lived  eccentric  and  died  lonely  in 
the  East,  a  kind  of  desert  queen.  With  the  Austerlitz  look 
on  his  face  he  bade  that  niece  roll  up  the  map  of  Europe : 
^'  It  will  not  be  wanted  these  ten  years."  With  the  Auster- 
litz look  on  his  face  he  died  on  January  23,  1806. 

England,  that  had  lost  in  three  months  Nelson  and  Pitt, 
was  to  lose  a  third  great  man  in  only  eight  months  more. 
Pitt's  body  lay  in  Westminster;  Pitt's  Ministry  was  dis- 
sipated into  air;  Pitt's  great  opponent  was  called  to  the 
otTice  for  the  last  time,  and  for  a  very  short  time.  Fox,  as 
we  are  told  by  his  biographer,  Lord  Eussell,  never  felt  per- 
sonal enmity  to  Pitt.  He  said,  with  generous  truth,  that 
he  never  gave  a  vote  with  more  satisfaction  than  his  vote 
in  support  of  the  motion  to  pay  Pitt's  debts  and  to  settle 
pensions  on  his  nieces.  He  could  not  and  did  not  indorse 
the  proposal  to  confer  honor  on  the  memory  of  Mr.  Pitt 

340  A  HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lxii. 

as  an  "  excellent  statesman."  He  was  ready  to  take  office 
in  the  Ministry  of  All  the  Talents  that  Lord  Grenville 
gathered  together.  He  became  Foreign  Secretary  and 
Leader  of  tlie  House  of  Commons. 

Fox,  in  office  as  out  of  office,  had  three  great  questions 
closely  at  heart:  the  treatment  of  Catholics,  peace  with 
France,  and  the  Slave  Trade.  But  Fox  in  office  was 
obliged  to  face  and  recognize  the  difficulties,  the  solution 
of  these  questions.  He  admitted,  reluctantly,  the  inad- 
visability  of  pressing  the  Catholic  claims  at  a  time  when 
such  pressure  would  prove  destructive  alike  to  the  claims 
and  to  the  Ministry  that  maintained  them.  He  admitted, 
reluctantly,  that  the  prospect  of  peace  with  France  was 
very  far  from  hopeful.  He  still  dreamed  of  a  speedy  aboli- 
tion of  the  Slave  Trade,  and  to  this  end  he  attended 
Parliament  too  persistently  in  defiance  of  the  warnings  of 
his  failing  health.  He  was  tapped  for  dropsy;  his  condi- 
tion grew  worse;  in  the  evening  of  September  13,  1806,  he 
died.  He  was  the  greatest  liberal  of  his  age;  the  greatest 
friend  of  liberty.  The  Irish  poet  bade  the  Irish  banshee 
wail  for  him  on  whose  burning  tongue,  truth,  peace,  and 
freedom  hung. 

Fox  was  not  long  dead  when  the  Ministry  of  All  the 
Talents  found  itself  in  direct  collision  with  its  royal  mas- 
ter. It  had  ventured  to  suggest  that  it  should  be  permitted 
to  Catholics  and  to  Dissenters  to  serve  the  King  and  the 
country  in  the  Army  and  Navy.  This  small  concession 
was  too  vast  for  the  bigotry  of  George.  He  would  have 
none  of  it,  and  the  obsequious  Ministry  consented  to 
abandon  the  measure.  This  was  not  enough  for  George. 
He  wanted  to  extract  from  the  Ministry  a  formal  promise 
in  writing  that  it  would  never  submit  to  the  sovereign  any 
measure  that  involved,  or  was  in  any  way  connected  with, 
concessions  to  the  Catholics.  The  Ministry  was  not  obse- 
quious to  that  ignoble  degree.  It  refused  to  bind  itself 
by  any  such  degrading  pledge ;  and,  in  consequence,  it  was 
turned  out  of  office,  and  the  Duke  of  Portland  and  Mr. 
Perceval  reigned  in  its  stead.  The  Ministry  of  All  the 
Talents  had  lived  neither  a  long  nor  a  useful  life. 

1769-1852.  ARTHUR  WELLESLEY.  341 

Spencer  Perceval  was  an  able  lawyer,  a  dexterous  debater, 
a  skilful  Parliamentarian.  He  was  privately  an  excellent 
man,  with  an  excellence  that  the  irony  of  Sydney  Smith 
has  made  immortal.  He  was  not  quite  the  man  to  sit  in 
the  Siege  Perilous  that  had  been  occupied  in  turn  by  Pitt 
and  Fox.  He  held  his  office  under  difficult  conditions.  In 
1810  the  King,  whose  ailing  mind  was  unhinged  by  the 
death  of  his  daughter  Amelia,  lost  his  reason  irreparably. 
Perceval  had  to  fight  the  question  of  the  Kegency  with  a 
brilliant  Opposition  and  a  bitterly  hostile  Prince  of  Wales. 
He  succieeded,  in  the  January  of  1811,  in  carrying  his  Re- 
gency Bill  on  the  lines  of  the  measure  proposed  in  1788. 
In  May,  1811,  he  was  shot  dead,  in  the  Lobby  of  the  House 
of  Commons,  by  a  madman  named  John  Bellingham,  who 
had  some  crazy  grievance  against  the  Government. 

The  years  from  the  January  of  1811  to  the  January  of 
1820  are  technically  the  last  nine  years  of  the  reign  of 
George  the  Third;  they  are  practically  the  first  nine  years 
of  the  reign  of  George  the  Fourth.  The  nine  years  of  the 
Regency  were  momentous  years  in  the  history  of  England. 
The  mighty  figure  of  Napoleon,  whose  shadow,  creeping 
over  the  map  of  Europe,  had  darkened  and  shortened  the 
life  of  Pitt,  was  still  an  abiding  menace  to  England  when 
the  Prince  of  Wales  became  Regent.  But  England,  that 
had  lost  so  much  in  her  struggle  with  the  Corsican  con- 
queror, who  had  now  no  Nelson  to  oppose  to  him  on  the 
high  seas,  and  no  Pitt  to  oppose  to  him  in  the  council 
chamber,  found  herself  armed  against  his  triumphs  in  the 
person  of  a  great  soldier. 

In  the  same  year  that  saw  the  birth  of  Napoleon,  and  on 
a  date  as  little  certain  as  that  of  the  conqueror  of  Europe, 
a  child  was  born  to  Garret  Wellesley,  first  Earl  of  Morn- 
ington,  in  Dublin.  The  child  was  a  son,  the  third  that 
Anne  Hill,  Lord  Dungannon's  eldest  daughter,  had  borne 
to  her  music-loving  husband;  the  child  was  christened 
Arthur.  Dates  as  various  as  May  1,  May  6,  and  April  29, 
1769,  are  given  by  different  authorities  in  that  very  year, 
and  the  place  of  birth  is  as  unsettled  as  the  date,  Dangan 
Castle  in  Meath,  and  Mornington  House,  Merrion  Street, 

342  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lxii. 

Dublin,  being  the  alternatives  offered.  Very  little  is  known 
about  the  childhood  and  early  youth  of  Arthur  Wellesley. 
His  mother  seems  to  have  considered  him  stupid,  and  to 
have  disliked  him  for  his  stupidity.  He  went  from  school 
to  school — first  at  Chelsea,  then  at  Eton,  then  at  Brussels 
— without  showing  any  special  gifts,  except  a  taste  for 
music,  inherited  no  doubt  from  the  father,  whose  musical 
tastes  had  earned  him  the  affection  of  George  the  Third. 
An  unamiable  mother  decided  that  he  was  "  food  for 
powder  and  nothing  more ;"  and  when  he  was  sixteen  years 
old  he  was  sent  to  the  French  Academy  at  Angers,  where 
he  was  able  to  learn  all  the  engineering  that  he  wanted,  at 
the  very  same  time  that  the  young  Napoleon  Bonaparte 
was  being  trained  for  a  soldier  in  the  military  college  at 
Brienne.  Of  the  little  that  can  be  known  of  the  first  sev- 
enteen years  of  Arthur  Wellesley's  life  the  clearest  facts 
are  that  his  childhood  was  not  happy,  that  he  was  believed 
by  many  to  be  a  dull  and  backward  boy,  and  that  he  him- 
self thought  that  if  circumstances  had  not  made  him  a 
soldier  he  would  probably  have  become  distinguished  in 
public  life  as  a  financier. 

Circumstance  made  him  a  soldier.  Through  the  pat- 
ronage of  his  eldest  brother,  who  became  Earl  of  Morning- 
ton  on  his  father's  death,  in  1781,  the  young  Arthur 
Wellesley  entered  the  Army  as  an  ensign  in  the  Seventy- 
third  Foot.  The  same  influence  that  had  got  him  into  the 
army  aided  him  to  rise  in  it.  When  he  was  little  more 
than  of  age  he  was  captain  of  the  Eighteenth  Light 
Dragoons,  aide-de-camp  to  the  Lord-Lieutenant  of  Ireland, 
and  member  of  the  Irish  Parliament  for  his  brother's 
borough  of  Trim.  In  the  Irish  Parliament  he  supported 
Pitt's  measure  to  enfranchise  Eoman  Catholics.  It  was 
characteristic  of  the  young  man  that,  when  once  a  career 
had  been  chosen  for  him,  he  devoted  himself  to  it  with  a 
cold,  persistent  zeal  that  accomplished  as  much  for  him 
as  the  most  passionate  enthusiasm  would  have  done  for  an- 
other. He  set  before  himself  the  principle  that  having 
undertaken  a  profession  he  had  better  try  to  understand 
it,  and  understand  it  he  did  with  a  determined  thorough- 


ness  that  was  rare  indeed^  if  not  "ankno^vn,  among  the 
young  officers  of  his  day.  We  are  told  that  soon  after 
he  got  his  first  commission  he  had  one  of  the  privates 
of  the  Seventy-third  weighed,  first  in  his  ordinary  mili- 
tary clothes,  and  then  in  heavy  marching  order,  in  order 
to  ascertain  what  was  expected  of  a  soldier  on  service. 
This  kind  of  thoroughness,  at  once  comprehensive  and 
minute,  distinguished  the  conduct  of  his  whole  career. 
One  of  the  maxims  that  regulated  his  life  was  always 
to  do  the  day's  business  in  the  day.  Long  years  later 
he  and  a  friend  were  driving  together  along  a  coaching 
road,  and  amusing  themselves  by  guessing  what  kind  of 
country  lay  behind  each  hill  they  approached.  When  the 
friend  commented  upon  the  surprising  accuracy  of  his 
companion's  guesses  the  man  who  had  been  Arthur 
Wellesley  answered :  "  Why,  all  my  life  I  have  been  try- 
ing to  guess  what  lay  on  the  other  side  of  the  hill;"  a 
stimulating  piece  of  wisdom,  to  which  he  himself  supplied 
the  no  less  stimulating  comment:  "All  the  business  of 
war,  and,  indeed,  all  the  business  of  life,  is  to  endeavor  to 
find  out  what  vou  don't  know  from  what  you  do."  The 
youth  who  took  soldiering  in  this  iron  spirit  must  have 
been  more  than  a  puzzle  to  many  of  his  contemporaries, 
whose  simple  military  creed  it  was  that  when  an  officer  was 
not  actually  fighting  he  might  best  employ  his  time  in 
drinking  and  gambling.  Young  Wellesley  fell  in  love  with 
Catherine  Pakenham,  Lord  Longford's  daughter,  and  she 
with  him;  but  the  means  of  neither  permitted  marriage 
then,  and  they  did  not  marry  until  long  years  later.  When 
the  war  with  France  was  forced  upon  a  reluctant  minister, 
Wellesley  went  to  the  Continent  under  Lord  Moira  and 
saw  some  fighting.  But  his  serious  career  began  when  he 
was  sent  to  India  with  the  Thirty-third  Eegiment  in  1797. 
It  was  in  India  that  the  young  soldier  was  to  learn  those 
lessons  in  the  art  of  war  which  were  afterwards  to  prove 
so  priceless  to  England,  and  to  gain  a  fame  which  might 
well  have  seemed  great  enough  to  satisfy  any  ambition  less 
exacting  than  his.  But  he  had  the  generous  greed  of  the 
great  soldier,  the  restless,  high-reaching  spirit,  to  which 

344  A   HISTORY   OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  Lxii. 

the  success  of  yesterda}^  is  as  nothing  save  as  an  experience 
that  may  serve  for  the  success  of  to-morrow.  No  better 
field  than  India  could  have  been  found  for  a  young  and 
ambitious  soldier  who  had  devoted  himself  to  his  career  al- 
most by  chance,  but  who  was  resolved  to  approve  his  choice 
by  giving  to  the  career  of  arms  a  zeal,  a  stubborn  pertin- 
acity, a  very  passion  of  patience,  rare,  indeed,  at  the  time, 
and  who  was  resolved  to  regard  nothing  as  too  great  to  at- 
tempt, or  too  trivial  to  notice,  in  the  execution  of  his  duty. 

After  a  career  of  military  honor  and  experience  in  In- 
dia, Arthur  Wellesley  began  his  struggle  with  Napoleon 
on  the  battle-fields  of  the  Spanish  Peninsula,  and  ended  it 
upon  the  battle-field  of  Waterloo.  His  was  the  hand  that 
gave  the  final  blow  to  the  falling,  failing  Emperor.  The 
career  of  so  much  glory  and  of  so  much  gloom,  of  Corsican 
lieutenantship  and  Empire,  of  Brumaire  and  Bourbon 
Restoration,  of  Egyptian  pyramids  and  Eussian  snows,  of 
Tilsit  and  of  Elba,  and  of  the  Hundred  Days,  ended  in 
the  Island  of  St.  Helena.  There  exists  among  the  docu- 
ments that  are  preserved  from  Napoleon's  youth  a  geo- 
graphical list  made  out  in  his  own  boyish  hand  of  names 
and  places,  with  explanatory  comments.  The  name  of  St. 
Helena  is  on  the  list,  and  the  only  words  written  opposite 
to  it  are  "  Little  Island."  The  Preacher  on  Vanities  never 
had  a  better  text  for  a  sermon.  The  "  little  island  "  that 
had  then  seemed  so  unimportant  became  in  the  end  more 
momentous  than  the  Eastern  Empire  of  his  dreams.  The 
man  who  had  made  and  unmade  kingdoms,  who  had  flung 
down  the  crowns  of  Europe  for  soldiers  of  fortune  to 
scramble  for  as  boys  unto  a  muss,  was  now  the  unhonored 
captive  of  ungenerous  opponents,  the  unhonored  victim 
of  the  petty  tyrannies  of  Sir  Hudson  Lowe. 

As  the  most  disastrous  event  of  the  reign  of  George  the 
Third  prior  to  the  Regency  was  a  war  with  America,  so 
the  most  disastrous  event  of  the  Regency  was  a  war  with 
America.  Napoleon's  fantastic  decrees  of  commercial 
blockade  levelled  against  England,  and  known  as  the  Con- 
tinental system,  had  embroiled  the  young  republic  and 
England,  and  differences  inflamed  by  the  unwisdom  of 

1812-15.  THE   WAR  OF   1812.  345 

Perceval  were  not  to  be  healed  by  the  belated  wisdom  of 
Castlereagh.  Two  keen  causes  of  quarrel  were  afforded  by 
England^s  persistent  assertion  of  the  right  to  stop  and 
search  American  vessels  on  the  high  seas  for  British  sub- 
jects and  England's  no  less  persistent  refusal  to  recognize 
that  naturalization  as  an  American  citizen  in  any  way 
affected  the  allegiance  of  a  British  subject  to  the  British 
crown.  Wise  statesmanship  might  have  averted  war,  but 
wise  statesmanship  was  wanting.  The  death  of  Spencer 
Perceval  caused  the  elevation  to  the  premiership  of  a  man 
as  incapable  as  his  predecessor  of  dealing  skilfully  with 
the  American  difficulty.  Eobert  Banks  Jenkinson,  who 
had  been  Lord  Hawkesbury  and  who  was  now  Lord  Liver- 
pool, was  a  curiously  narrow-minded,  hidebound  politician 
who  had  never  recovered  from  the  shock  of  the  French 
Ee volution,  and  who  was  chiefly  conspicuous  for  his  dogged 
opposition  to  every  species  of  reform.  He  was  five  years 
old  when  the  fight  at  Concord  began  the  struggle  tliat 
ended  with  American  Independence,  but  the  great  event 
which  overshadowed  his  childhood  had  no  apparent  effect 
upon  his  later  judgment.  This  belated  survival  of  the 
tradition  of  Hillsborough  thought  and  said  that  America 
ought  to  look  to  England  "  as  the  guardian  power  to  which 
she  was  indebted  not  only  for  her  comforts,  not  only  for 
her  rank  in  the  scale  of  civilization,  but  for  her  very  ex- 
istence." Folly  such  as  this  could  only  end  in  disaster. 
America,  believing  herself  to  be  deeply  wronged,  declared 
war  on  Great  Britain  in  the  June  of  1812.  The  war  lasted 
more  than  two  years  with  varying  fortunes.  Once  again 
the  scarlet  coats  of  English  soldiers  were  familiar,  if  de- 
tested, objects  to  many  of  the  men  who  had  made  the  Re- 
public, and  over  bloody  battle-fields  fluttered  that  English 
flag  which  most  of  those  who  now  opposed  it  had  only  seen 
as  a  trophy  of  their  fathers'  victories.  Both  sides  fought 
under  heavy  disadvantages.  If  England  was  weakened 
by  her  struggle  with  Xapoleon,  America  was  hampered  by 
internal  dissensions,  by  a  disorganized  army  and  by  a  navy 
so  small  that  it  might  almost  have  been  regarded  as  not  in 
existence.     Yet  it  was  this  very  navy  which  did  most  for 

346  A   HISTORY  OF  THE   FOUR  GEORGES.  ch.  lxii. 

America  in  the  struggle,  and  dealt  England  the  most  stag- 
gering blows  inflicted  upon  her  supremacy  of  the  sea.  The 
most  shameful  episode  of  the  whole  unhappy  campaign  was 
when  the  English  General  Eoss  captured  Washington,  and, 
in  obedience  to  infamous  orders  from  home,  burned  the 
Capitol  and  other  public  buildings.  No  more  disgraceful 
act  stains  the  history  of  the  time.  It  proved  as  impossible 
for  England  to  defend  as  for  America  to  forget.  The  war 
ended  at  last,  after  the  commerce  of  both  countries  had 
been  gravely  injured,  in  a  grotesque  treaty  of  peace,  signed 
at  Ghent,  in  which  the  principal  cause  of  the  war,  the  im- 
pressment of  American  sailors  by  English  ships,  was  not 
even  alluded  to.  But  as  the  impressment  was  abandoned 
by  England,  the  war  had  not  been  waged  wholly  in  vain. 

In  the  year  that  followed  upon  the  Battle  of  Waterloo, 
Sheridan  died.  He  had  outlived  by  ten  years  his  great 
contemporaries  Pitt  and  Fox,  by  nearly  twenty  years  his 
greatest  contemporary  Burke,  and  by  more  than  thirty 
years  his  great  contemporary  Johnson.  The  pompous 
funeral  that  carried  his  remains  to  Westminster  Abbey  was 
the  funeral  not  merely  of  a  man  but  of  an  age.  He  was 
almost  the  last  of  the  great  heroic  figures  that  made  the 
eighteenth  century  famous.  He  had  long  outlived  all  the 
friends,  heroes,  rivals  of  his  glorious  prime:  he  could  talk 
to  the  children  of  the  dawning  century  of  Johnson,  and 
Goldsmith,  and  Sir  Joshua  Eeynolds;  of  Burke,  and  Pitt, 
and  Fox;  of  poets  and  painters,  players,  and  politicians, 
who  seemed  to  his  listeners  to  belong  to  a  departed  Age  of 
Gold.  Two  years  later,  in  the  November  of  1818,  Eng- 
land, and  indeed  the  whole  civilized  world,  received  a  sud- 
den and  painful  shock  by  the  death,  under  conditions  pe- 
culiarly harrowing,  of  Sir  Samuel  Romilly,  the  great  law- 
yer, social  reformer,  and  philanthropist.  Romilly  had 
been  deeply  attached  to  his  wife,  and  on  her  death  in  Oc- 
tober of  that  year,  it  would  seem  that  he  must  have  lost 
his  reason,  for,  in  the  following  month,  he  committed 
suicide.  Romilly  was  a  man  of  the  highest  principles,  and 
the  most  austere  conscience,  and  although  the  loss  of  his 
much-loved  wife  must  have  made  the  world  but  a  mere 

1818.  SIR  SAMUEL  ROMILLY.  347 

ruin  to  him,  it  is  not  believed  that,  if  his  mind  had  not 
suddenly  given  away,  he  would  have  done  himself  to  death 
with  his  own  hand.  To  Napoleon,  then  fretting  in  exile 
in  St.  Helena,  the  deed  appeared  to  be  one  curiously  char- 
acteristic of  the  English  people.  "  The  English  character 
is  superior  to  ours.  Conceive  Eomilly,  one  of  the  leaders 
of  a  great  party,  committing  suicide  at  fifty  because  he  had 
lost  his  wife.  They  are  in  everj^thing  more  practical  than 
we  are;  they  emigrate,  they  marry,  they  kill  themselves 
with  less  indecision  than  we  display  in  going  to  the  opera." 
Napoleon  was  wrong  in  his  estimate  of  Romilly's  age. 
Eomilly  was  sixty-one  when  he  died.  He  was  one  of  the 
greatest  legal  and  social  reformers  of  his  age.  His  father 
was  a  Huguenot  watchmaker  who  had  settled  in  London, 
and  the  3^oung  Samuel  Eomilly  had  only  an  imperfect 
education  to  begin  with.  By  intense  study  he  became  pos- 
sessed of  wide  and  varied  culture.  He  studied  for  the 
bar,  became  distinguished  in  Chancery  practice,  made  his 
way  in  public  life,  sat  in  the  House  of  Commons  for  several 
years,  and  finally  represented  Westminster.  During  suc- 
cessive visits  to  France  he  had  made  the  acquaintance  of 
Diderot  and  D'Alembert,  and  became  the  friend  of  Mira- 
beau.  He  won  a  noble  fame  by  his  persistent  endeavors  to 
mitigate  the  cruelties  of  the  criminal  laws,  to  introduce 
the  principles  of  a  free  country  into  political  prosecutions, 
to  abolish  the  odious  spy  system,  and  to  put  an  end  to 
slavery  at  home  and  abroad.  His  name  will  be  remembered 
forever  in  the  history  of  political  and  social  reform. 

The  Houses  of  Death  and  of  Birth  were  busy  for  the 
royal  family  in  the  closing  scenes  of  the  King's  tragedy. 
There  had  been  very  little  happiness  for  George  the  Third 
in  his  long  reign  and  his  longer  life.  His  childhood  had 
been  darkened  by  the  shadow  of  a  family  feud  that  seemed 
traditional  in  his  line.  His  marriage,  indeed,  fortunate 
if  unromantic,  the  sequel  of  more  than  one  unfortunate  ro- 
mance, gave  him  a  companion  whose  tastes  were  as  simple, 
and  whose  purposes  were  as  upright  as  his  own.  But  his 
private  domesticity  was  not  destined  to  be  less  troubled 
than  his  public  fortunes.     The  grim  tradition  asserted 

348  A  HISTORY  OF  THE  FOUR  GEORGES.  CH.  ixn. 

itself  again  for  him  whose  childhood  and  manhood  had 
heen  only  too  devoted  to  the  influence  of  his  mother.  Few 
of  his  children  were  a  cause  of  joy  to  him;  some  were  a 
source  of  very  poignant  sorrow.  He  might  have  known 
content  in  a  private  station  under  conditions  better  fitted 
to  strengthen  his  virtues  and  to  lessen  the  force  of  his 
defects.  If  Farmer  George  had  really  been  but  Farmer 
George,  his  existence  might  tranquilly  have  followed  the 
courses  of  the  seasons  through  a  prosperous  manhood  to 
a  peaceable  old  age.  But  the  curse  of  kingship  was  upon 
him  very  heavily,  and  his  later  years  are  very  pitiful  in 
their  loneliness  and  their  pain.  Of  the  course  of  events 
about  him  he,  in  the  awful  visitation  of  his  infirmities,  had 
long  been  unconscious.  Blind  and  deaf  and  mad,  he  seems 
to  have  been  haunted  by  the  ghastly  fancy  that  he  was 
already  dead.  "  I  must  have  a  suit  of  black,"  he  is  reported 
to  have  said,  "  in  memory  of  George  the  Third,  for  whom 
I  know  there  is  a  general  mourning."  George  the  Third  was 
dead  in  life,  and  about  him  those  he  loved  were  dying  fast. 
On  November  6,  1817,  the  Princess  Charlotte  died,  the 
only  child  of  the  Prince  Eegent.  She  was  very  popular, 
was  in  the  direct  succession  to  the  throne ;  she  hoped  to  be 
queen,  and  many  shared  her  hope.  The  prisoner  of  St. 
Helena  believed  that  in  her  lay  his  best  chance  of  libera- 
tion. She  married  Prince  Leopold  of  Saxe-Coburg  on 
May  2,  1816,  and  died  after  giving  birth  to  a  still-born 
child  in  the  following  year.  She  was  not  quite  twenty- 
two  years  old.  The  news  of  her  death  greatly  affected  the 
old  queen,  her  grandmother.  Her  health,  that  had  long 
been  weak,  grew  weaker,  and  she  died  on  November  17, 
1818.  She  had  lived  her  simple,  honest,  narrow,  upright 
life  for  seventy-four  years.  On  May  24,  1819,  a  daughter 
was  born  to  the  Duchess  of  Kent,  the  wife  of  Edward, 
Duke  of  Kent,  the  fourth  son  of  George  the  Third.  On 
January  23,  1820,  the  Duke  of  Kent  died.  Six  days  later 
(he  King  ceased  to  exist.  He  was  in  the  eighty-second  year 
of  his  age  and  the  sixtieth  year  of  his  reign.  The  most 
devoted  loyalist  could  not  have  wished  for  the  unhappy 
King  another  hour  of  life.     "  Vex  not  his  ghost  0 !   Let 

1760-1820.        PROGRESS  UNDER  GEORGE  THE  THIRD.  349 

him  pass;  he  hates  him  that  would  upon  the  rack  of  this 
rough  world  stretch  him  out  longer." 

The  reign  that  had  ended  was  certainly  the  longest  and 
perhaps  the  most  remarkable  then  known  to  English  his- 
tory. The  King's  granddaughter,  the  Princess  Victoria, 
born  so  short  a  time  before  his  death,  was  destined  to  a 
reign  at  once  longer  and  more  remarkable  than  the  reign  of 
George  the  Third.  The  England  of  1820  was  not  nearly 
60  far  removed  from  the  England  of  1760  as  the  England 
of  the  last  year  of  the  nineteenth  century  was  removed 
from  1837.  But  the  changes  that  took  place  in  England 
in  the  sixty  years  of  the  reign  of  the  third  George  were 
changes  of  vast  moment  and  vast  importance.  If  Eng- 
land's political  fortunes  fell  and  rose  in  startling  contrast, 
the  progress  of  civilization  was  steady  and  significant.  The 
social  England  of  1820  was  widely  different  from  the 
social  England  of  1760.  The  advance  of  population,  the 
growth  of  great  towns,  the  increase  of  means  of  inter- 
course between  one  part  of  the  country  and  another  by 
highways  and  waterways,  the  engineering  triumphs  that 
bridged  rivers  and  cut  canals,  the  marvels  of  industrial 
invention  that  facilitated  labor,  the  patient  pains  of  science 
on  the  edge  of  great  discoveries,  the  slowly  increasing 
spirit  of  toleration,  pity,  and  humanity,  the  gradual  spread 
of  education,  the  widening  realms  of  knowledge,  the  in- 
creasing appreciation  of  the  decencies  and  amenities  of 
life — all  these  things  make  the  reign  of  George  the  Third 
the  hopeful  preface  to  the  reign  of  greater  length,  greater 
glory,  greater  promise  and  greater  fulfilment  that  was  to 
dawn  when  two  more  sovereigns  of  the  House  of  Hanover 
had  ceased  to  reign  over  England.  If  George  the  Third 
had  been  a  wiser  man  his  reign  would  have  been  happier 
for  the  country  he  ruled;  but  the  country  at  least  was 
happy  in  this,  that  he  was,  as  kings  went,  and  according 
to  his  lights,  a  good  man. 


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